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University of California Berkeley 



A Play in Three Acts 




Copyright, 1920, by 

All rights reserved, including that of translation into 
foreign languages 


MRS MARY LOVING, a widow. 

RACHEL LOVING, her daughter. 

THOMAS LOVING, her son. 

JIMMY MASON, a small boy. 

JOHN STRONG, a friend of the family. 

MRS. LANE, a caller. 

ETHEL LANE, her daughter. 







little friends of Rachel. 

TIME: The first decade of the Twentieth Century. 

ACT I. October i6th. 

ACT II. October i6th, four years later. 

ACT III. One week later. 

PLACE: A northern city. The living room in the small 
apartment of Mrs. Loving. 

All of the characters are colored. 




The scene is a room scrupulously neat and clean and plainly 
furnished. The walls are painted green, the woodwork, 
white. In the rear at the left an open doorway leads 
into a hall. Its bare, green wall and white baseboard 
are all that can be seen of it. It leads into the other 
rooms of the flat. In the centre of the rear wall of 
the room is a window. It is shut. The white sash 
curtains are pushed to right and left as far as they will 
go. The green shade is rolled up to the top. Through 
the window can be seen the red bricks of a house wall, 
and the tops of a couple of trees moving now and then 
in the wind. Within the window, and just below the 
sill, is a shelf upon which are a few potted plants. 
Between the window and the door is a bookcase full of 
books and above it, hanging on the wall, a simply 
framed, inexpensive copy of Millet's "The Reapers." 
There is a run extending from the right center to just 
below the right upper entrance. It is the vestibule of 
the flat. Its open doorway faces the left wall. In the 
right wall near the front is another window. Here the 
sash curtains are drawn together and the green shade 
is partly lowered. The window is up from the bottom. 
Through it street noises can be heard. In front of this 
window is an open, threaded sewing-machine. Some 
frail, white fabric is lying upon it. There is a chair in 


front of the machine and at the machine's left a small 
table covered with a green cloth. In the rear of the 
left wall and directly opposite to the entrance to the flat 
is the doorway leading into the kitchenette, dishes 
on shelves can be seen behind glass doors. 

In the center of the left wall is a fireplace with a grate in it 
for coals; over this is a wooden mantel painted white. 
In the center is a small clock. A pair of vases, green 
and white in coloring, one at each end, complete the 
ornaments. Over the mantel is a narrow mirror; and 
over this, hanging on the wall, Burne-Jones' "Golden 
Stairs," simply framed. Against the front end of the 
left wall is an upright piano with a stool in front of it. 
On top is music neatly piled. Hanging over the piano 
is Raphael's "Sistine Madonna." In the center of the 
floor is a green rug, and in the center of this, a rectan- 
gular dining-room table, the long side facing front. It 
is covered with a green table-cloth. Three dining-room 
chairs are at the table, one at either end and one at the 
rear facing front. Above the table is a chandelier with 
four gas jets enclosed by glass globes. At the right 
front center is a rather shabby arm-chair upholstered 
in green. 
Left and right from the spectator's point of view. 

Before the sewing-machine, Mrs. Loving is seated. She 
looks worried. She is sewing swiftly and deftly by 
hand upon a waist in her lap. It is a white, beautiful 
thing and she sews upon it delicately. It is about half- 
past four in the afternoon; and the light is failing. 
Mrs. Loving pauses in her sewing, rises and lets the 
window-shade near her go up to the top. She pushes 
the sash-curtains to either side, the corner of a red 
brick house wall being thus brought into view. She 
shivers slightly, then pushes the window down at 


the bottom and lowers it a trifle from the top. The 
street noises become less distinct. She takes off her 
thimble, rubs her hands gently, puts the thimble on 
again, and looks at the clock on the mantel. She then 
reseats herself, with her chair as close to the window as 
possible and begins to sew. Presently a key is heard, 
and the door opens and shuts noisily. Rachel comes 
in from the vestibule. In her left arm she carries four 
or five books strapped together; under her right, a roll 
of music. Her hat is twisted over her left ear and her 
hair is falling in tendrils about her face. She brings 
into the room with her the spirit of abounding life, 
health, joy, youth. Mrs. Loving pauses, needle in 
hand, as soon as she hears the turning key and the 
banging door. There is a smile on her face. For a 
second, mother and daughter smile at each other. 
Then Rachel throws her books upon the dining-room 
table, places the music there also, but with care, and 
rushing to her mother, gives her a bear hug and a kiss. 

RACHEL: Ma dear! dear, old Ma dear! 

MRS. LOVING : Look out for the needle, Rachel ! The waist! 
Oh, Rachel ! 

RACHEL (On her knees and shaking her finger directly un- 
der her mother's nose.) : You old, old fraud! You know 
you adore being hugged. I've a good mind . . . 

MRS. LOVING : Now, Rachel, please ! Besides, I know your 
tricks. You think you can make me forget you are late. 
What time is it? 

RACHEL (Looking at the clock and expressing surprise) : 
Jiminy Xmas! (Whistles) Why, it's five o'clock! 

MRS. LOVING (Severely) : Well! 

RACHEL (Plaintively) : Now, Ma dear, you're going to be 
horrid and cross. 


MRS. LOVING (Laughing) : Really, Rachel, that expression 
is not particularly affecting, when your hat is over your 
ear, and you look, with your hair over your eyes, exactly 
like some one's pet poodle. I wonder if you are ever 
going to grow up and be ladylike. 

RACHEL: Oh! Ma dear, I hope not, not for the longest time, 
two long, long years at least. I just want to be silly and 
irresponsible, and have you to love and torment, and, of 
course, Tom, too. 

MRS. LOVING (Smiling down at Rachel) : You'll not make 
me forget, young lady. Why are you late, Rachel? 

RACHEL : Well, Ma dear, I'm your pet poodle, and my hat 
is over my ear, and I'm late, for the loveliest reason. 

MRS. LOVING : Don't be silly, Rachel. 

RACHEL: That may sound silly, but it isn't. And please 
don't "Rachel" me so much. It was honestly one whole 
hour ago when I opened the front door down stairs. I 
know it was, because I heard the postman telling some one 
it was four o'clock. Well, I climbed the first flight, and 
was just starting up the second, when a little shrill voice 
said, " 'Lo !" I raised my eyes, and there, half-way up 
the stairs, sitting in the middle of a step, was just the 
dearest, cutest, darlingest little brown baby boy you ever 
saw. " 'Lo ! yourself," I said. "What are you doing, and 
who are you anyway ?" "I'm Jimmy ; and I'm widing to 
New York on the choo-choo tars." As he looked entirely 
too young to be going such a distance by himself, I asked 
him if I might go too. For a minute or two he considered 
the question and me very seriously, and then he said, 
' 'Es," and made room for me on the step beside him. 
We've been everywhere: New York, Chicago, Boston, 
London, Paris^nd Oshkosh. I wish you could have heard 
him say that last place. I suggested going there just to 
hear him. Now, Ma dear, is it any wonder I am late ? See 


all the places we have been in just one "teeny, weeny" 
hour? We would have been traveling yet, but his hor- 
rid, little mother came out and called him in. They're 
in the flat below, the new people. But before he went, 
Ma dear, he said the "cunningest" thing. He said, "Will 
you turn out an' p'ay wif me aden in two minutes?" I 
nearly hugged him to death, and it's a wonder my hat is 
on my head at all. Hats are such unimportant nuisances 
anyway ! 

MRS. LOVING: Unimportant nuisances! What ridiculous 
language you do use, Rachel ! Well, I'm no prophet, but 
I see very distinctly what is going to happen. This little 
brown baby will be living here night and day. You're not 
happy unless some child is trailing along in your rear. 

RACHEL (Mischievously) : Now, Ma dear, whose a hypo- 
crite ? What ? I suppose you don't like children ! I can 
tell you one thing, though, it won't be my fault if he isn't 
here night and day. Oh, I wish he were all mine, every 
bit of him ! Ma dear, do you suppose that "she woman" 
he calls mother would let him come up here until it is 
time for him to go to bed? I'm going down there this 
minute. (Rises impetuously). 

MRS. LOVING : Rachel, for Heaven's sake ! No ! I am en- 
tirely too busy and tired today without being bothered 
with a child romping around in here. 

RACHEL (Reluctantly and a trifle petulantly) : Very well, 
then. (For several moments she watches her mother, 
who has begun to sew again. The displeasure vanishes 
from her face). Ma dear! 


RACHEL: Is there anything wrong today? 

MRS. LOVING: I'm just tired, chickabiddy, that's all. 

RACHEL (Moves over to the table. Mechanically takes off 
her hat and coat and carries them out into the entryway 


of the flat. She returns and goes to the looking glass 
over the fireplace and tucks in the tendrils of her hair in 
rather a preoccupied manner. The electric doorbell rings. 
She returns to the speaking tube in the vestibule. Her 
voice is heard answering) : Yes ! Yes ! No, I'm not 
Mrs. Loving. She's here, yes! What? Oh! come right 
up! (Appearing in the doorway). Ma dear, it's some 
man, who is coming for Mrs. Strong's waist. 

MRS. LOVING (Pausing and looking at Rachel) : It is prob- 
ably her son. She saiJ she would send for it this after- 
noon. (Rachel disappears. A door is heard opening 
and closing. There is the sound of a man's voice. Rachel 
ushers in Mr. John Strong.) 

STRONG (Bozving pleasantly to Mrs. Loving) : Mrs. Loving? 
(Mrs. Loving bows, puts down her sewing, rises and goes 
toward Strong). My name is Strong. My mother asked 
me to come by and get her waist this afternoon. She 
hoped it would be finished. 

MRS. LOVING: Yes, Mr. Strong, it is all ready. If you'll sit 
down a minute, I'll wrap it up for you. (She goes into 
hallway leading to other rooms in flat). 

RACHEL (Manifestly ill at ease at being left alone with a 
stranger; attempting, however, to be the polite hostess) : 
Do sit down, Mr. Strong. (They both sit). 

RACHEL (Nervously after a pause) : It's a very pleasant 
day, isn't it, Mr. Strong? 

STRONG : Yes, very. (He leans back composedly, his hat 
on his knee, the faintest expression of amusement in his 
eyes) . 

RACHEL (After a pause) : It's quite a climb up to our flat, 
don't you think? 

STRONG : Why, no ! It didn't strike me so. I'm not old 
enough yet to mind stairs. 


RACHEL: (Nervously) : Oh! I didn't mean that you are old! 
Anyone can see you are quite young, that is, of course, not 
too young, but, (Strong laughs quietly). There! I 
don't blame you for laughing. I'm always clumsy just 
like that. 

MRS. LOVING (Calling from the other room) : Rachel, bring 
me a needle and the sixty cotton, please. 

RACHEL: All right, Ma dear! (Rummages for the cotton 
in the machine drawer, and upsets several spools upon the 
floor. To Strong) : You see ! I can't even get a spool of 
cotton without spilling things all over the floor. (Strong 
smiles, Rachel picks up the spools and finally gets the cot- 
ton and needle). Excuse me! (Goes out door leading 
to other rooms. Strong left to himself, looks around 
casually. The "Golden Stairs" interests him and the 
"Sistine Madonna/') 

RACHEL (Re enters, evidently continuing her function of 
hostess) : We were talking about the climb to our flat, 
weren't we? You see, when you're poor, you have to 
live in a top flat. There is always a compensation, though ; 
we have bully I mean nice air, better light, a lovely 
view, and nobody "thud-thudding" up and down over our 
heads night and day. The people below have our "thud- 
thudding," and it must be something awful, especially 
when Tom and I play "Ivanhoe" and have a tournament 
up here. We're entirely too old, but we still play. Ma 
dear rather dreads the climb up three flights, so Tom and 
I do all the errands. We don't mind climbing the stairs, 
particularly when we go up two or three at a time, that 
is Tom still does. I can't, Ma dear stopped me. 
(Sighs). I've got to grow up it seems. 

STRONG (Evidently amused) : It is rather hard being a girl, 
isn't it? 


RACHEL : Oh, no ! It's not hard at all. That's the trouble ; 
they won't let me be a girl. I'd love to be. 

MRS. LOVING (Reentering with parcel. She smiles) : My 
chatterbox, I see, is entertaining you, Mr. Strong. I'm 
sorry to have kept you waiting, but I forgot, I found, to 
sew the niching in the neck. I hope everything is satis- 
factory. If it isn't, I'll be glad to make any changes. 

STRONG (Who has risen upon her entrance) : Thank you, 
Mrs. Loving, I'm sure everything is all right. (He takes 
the package and bows to her and Rachel He moves 
towards the vestibule, Mrs. Loving following him. She 
passes through the doorway first. Before leaving, Strong 
turns for a second and looks back quietly at Rachel. He 
goes out too. Rachel returns to the mirror, looks at her 
face for a second, and then begins to touch and pat her 
hair lightly and delicately here and there. Mrs. Loving 

RACHEL (Still at the glass) : He was rather nice, wasn't he, 
Ma dear? for a man? (Laughs). I guess my reason's 
a vain one, he let me do all the talking. (Pauses). 
Strong? Strong? Ma dear, is his mother the little woman 
with the sad, black eyes? 

MRS. LOVING (Resuming her sewing; sitting before the ma- 
chine). Yes. I was rather curious, I confess, to see this 
son of hers. The whole time I'm fitting her she talks of 
nothing else. She worships him. (Pauses) . It's rather 
a sad case, I believe. She is a widow. Her husband was 
a doctor and left her a little money. She came up from 
the South to educate this boy. Both of them worked 
hard and the boy got through college. Three months he 
hunted for work that a college man might expect to get. 
You see he had the tremendous handicap of being colored. 
As the two of them had to live, one day, without her 
knowing it, he hired himself out as a waiter. He has been 


one now for two years. He is evidently goodness itself 
to his mother. 

RACHEL (Slowly and thoughtfully} : Just because he is 
colored! (Pauses). We sing a song at school, I believe, 
about "The land of the free and the home of the brave." 
What an amusing nation it is. 

MRS. LOVING (Watching Rachel anxiously) : Come, Rachel, 
you haven't time for "amusing nations." Remember, you 
haven't practised any this afternoon. And put your books 
away ; don't leave them on the table. You didn't practise 
any this morning either, did you ? 

RACHEL: No, Ma dear, didn't wake up in time. (Goes to 
the table and in an abstracted manner puts books on the 
bookcase; returns to the table ; picks up the roll of sheet 
music she has brought home with her; brightens; impul- 
sively) Ma dear, just listen to this lullaby. It's the sweet- 
est thing. I was so "daffy" over it, one of the girls at 
school lent it to me. (She rushes to the piano with the 
music and plays the accompaniment through softly and 
then sings, still softly and with great expression, Jessie 
Gaynor's <( Slumber Boat") 

Baby's boat's the silver moon; 

Sailing in the sky, 
Sailing o'er the sea of sleep, 
While the clouds float by. 

Sail, baby, sail, 
Out upon that sea, 

Only don't forget to sail 
Back again to me. 


Baby's fishing for a dream, 

Fishing near and far, 
His line a silver moonbeam is, 
His bait a silver star. 

Sail, baby, sail, etc. 

Listen, Ma dear, right here. Isn't it lovely? (Plays and 

sings very softly and slowly) : 

"Only don't forget to sail 
Back again to me." 

(Pauses; in hushed tones) Ma dear, it's so beautiful it 

it hurts. 

MRS. LOVING (Quietly) : Yes, dear, it is pretty. 
RACHEL (For several minutes watches her mother's 

profile from the piano stool. Her expression is rather 

wistful) : Ma dear ! 
MRS. LOVING : Yes, Rachel. 
RACHEL: What's the matter? 
MRS. LOVING (Without turning): Matter! What do you 

RACHEL: I don't know. I just feel something is not quite 

right with you. 

MRS. LOVING : I'm only tired that's all. 
RACHEL: Perhaps. But (Watches her mother a moment 

or two longer; shakes her head; turns back to the piano. 

She is thoughtful; looks at her hands in her lap). Ma 

dear, wouldn't it be nice if we could keep all the babies 

in the world always little babies ? Then they'd be always 

little, and cunning, and lovable ; and they could never grow 

up, then, and and be bad. I'm so sorry for mothers, 

whose little babies grow up and and are bad. 
MRS. LOVING (Startled; controlling herself, looks at Rachel 

anxiously, perplexedly. Rachel's eyes are still on her 


hands. Attempting a light tone) : Come, Rachel, what 
experience have you had with mothers whose babies have 
grown up to be bad? You you talk like an old, old 

RACHEL (Without raising her eyes, quietly) : I know I'm 
not old ; but, just the same I know that is true. (Softly) 
And I'm so sorry for the mothers. 

MRS. LOVING (With a forced laugh) : Well, Miss Methuse- 
lah, how do you happen to know all this ? Mothers whose 
babies grow up to be bad don't, as a rule, parade their 
faults before the world. 

RACHEL: That's just it that's how you know. They don't 
talk at all. 

MRS. LOVING (Involuntarily) : Oh! (Ceases to sew; looks 
at Rachel sharply; she is plainly worried. There is a long 
silence. Presently Rachel raises her eyes to Raphael's 
"Madonna" over the piano. Her expression becomes 
rapt; then, very softly, her eyes still on the picture, she 
plays and sings Nevin's "Mighty Lak A Rose 1 ') 

Sweetest li'l feller, 

Ev'rybody knows; 
Dunno what to call him, 

But he mighty lak' a rose ! 
Lookin* at his Mammy 

Wid eyes so shiny blue, 
Mek' you think that heav'n 

Is comin' clost ter you ! 

Wen his dar a sleepin' 

In his li'l place 
Think I see de angels 

Lookin' thro 1 de lace. 
Wen de dark is fallin', 


Wen de shadders creep, 
Den dey comes on tip-toe, 
Ter kiss him in his sleep. 

Sweetest li'l feller, etc. 

(With head still raised, after she has finished, she closes 
her eyes. Half to herself and slowly) I think the loveliest 
thing of all the lovely things in this world is just (almost 
in a whisper) being a mother! 

MRS. LOVING (Turns and laughs) : Well, of all the startling 
children, Rachel! I am getting to feel, when you're 
around as though I'm shut up with dynamite. What 
next? (Rachel rises ; goes slowly to her mother, and 
kneels down beside her. She does not touch her mother) . 
Why so serious, chickabiddy? 

RACHEL (Slowly and quietly) : It is not kind to laugh at 
sacred things. When you laughed, it was as though you 
laughed at God! 

MRS. LOVING (Startled) : Rachel ! 

RACHEL (Still quietly) : It's true. It was the best in me 
that said that it was God! (Pauses). And, Ma dear, 
if I believed that I should grow up and not be a mother, 
I'd pray to die now. I've thought about it a lot, Ma dear, 
and once I dreamed, and a voice said to me oh ! it was so 
real "Rachel, you are to be a mother to little children." 
Wasn't that beautiful? Ever since I have known how 
Mary felt at the "Annunciation." (Almost in a whisper) 
God spoke to me through some one, and I believe. And 
it has explained so much to me. I know now why I just 
can't resist any child. I have to love it it calls me it- 
draws me. I want to take care of it, wash it, dress it, live 
for it. I want the feel of its little warm body against 
me, its breath on my neck, its hands against my face. 


(Pauses thoughtfully for a few moments). Ma dear, 
here's something I don't understand : I love the little black 
and brown babies best of all. There is something about 
them that that clutches at my heart. Why why 
should they be oh ! pathetic ? I don't understand. It's 
dim. More than the other babies, I feel that I must pro- 
tect them. They're in danger, but from what? I don't 
know. I've tried so hard to understand, but I can't. (Her 
face radiant and beautiful) . Ma dear, I think their white 
teeth and the clear whites of their big black eyes and their 
dimples everywhere are are (Breaks off). And, Ma 
dear, because I love them best, I pray God every night to 
give me, when I grow up, little black and brown babies 
to protect and guard. (Wistfully). Now, Ma dear, 
don't you see why you must never laugh at me again? 
Dear, dear, Ma dear? (Buries her head in her mother's 
lap and sobs). 

MRS. LOVING (For a few seconds, sits as though dazed, 
and then instinctively begins to caress the head in her lap. 
To herself) And I suppose my experience is every 
mother's. Sooner or later of a sudden she finds her own 
child a stranger to her. (To Rachel, very tenderly) Poor 
little girl ! Poor little chickabiddy ! 

RACHEL (Raising her head) : Why do you say, "Poor little 
girl," like that? I don't understand. Why, Ma dear, I 
never saw tears in your eyes before. Is it is it be- 
cause you know the things I do not understand? Oh! it 
is that. 

MRS. LOVING (Simply) : Yes, Rachel, and I cannot save you. 

RACHEL: Ma dear, you frighten me. Save me from what? 

MRS. LOVING: Just life, my little chickabiddy! 

RACHEL: Is life so terrible? I had found it mostly beautiful. 
How can life be terrible, when the world is full of little 
children ? 


MRS. LOVING (Very sadly) : Oh, Rachel! Rachel! 

RACHEL: Ma dear, what have I said? 

MRS. LOVING (Forcing a smile) : Why, the truth, of course, 
Rachel. Life is not terrible when there are little children 
and you and Tom and a roof over our heads and 
work and food and clothes and sleep at night. 
(Pauses). Rachel, I am not myself today. I'm tired. 
Forget what I've said. Come, chickabiddy, wipe your 
eyes and smile. That's only an imitation smile, but it's 
better than none. Jump up now, and light the lamp for 
me, will you? Tom's late, isn't he? I shall want you to 
go, too, for the rolls and pie for supper. 

RACHEL (Rises rather wearily and goes into the kitchenette. 
While she is out of the room Mrs. Loving does not move. 
She sits staring in front of her. The room for some 
time has been growing dark. Mrs. Loving can just be 
seen when Rachel reenters with the lamp. She places it 
on the small table near her mother, adjusts it, so the light 
falls on her mother's work, and then lowers the window 
shades at the windows. She- still droops. Mrs. Loving, 
while Rachel is in the room, is industrious. Rachel puts 
on her hat and coat listlessly. She does not look in the 
glass). Where is the money, Ma dear? I'm ready. 

MRS. LOVING: Before you go, Rachel, just give a look at the 
meat and see if it is cooking all right, will you, dearie? 

RACHEL (Goes out into the kitchenette and presently re- 
turns) : It's all right, Ma dear. 

MRS. LOVING (While Rachel is out of the room, she takes 
her pocket-book out of the machine-drawer, opens it, takes 
out money and gives it to Rachel upon her return) : A 
dozen brown rolls, Rachel. Be sure they're brown ! And, 
I guess, an apple pie. As you and Tom never seem to 
get enough apple pie, get the largest she has. And here is 
a quarter. Get some candy any kind you like, Chicka- 


biddy. Let's have a party tonight, I feel extravagant. 

Why, Rachel! why are you crying? 
RACHEL: Nothing, dear Ma dear. I'll be all right when I 

get in the air. Goodbye ! (Rushes out of the flat. Mrs. 

Loving sits idle. Presently the outer door of the fiat 

opens and shuts with a bang, and Tom appears. Mrs. 

Loving begins to work as soon as she hears the banging 

TOM: 'Lo, Ma! Where's Sis, out? The door's off the 

latch. (Kisses his mother and hangs hat in entryway). 
MRS. LOVING (Greeting him with the same beautiful smile 

with which she greeted Rachel) : Rachel just went after 

the rolls and pie. She'll be back in a few minutes. 

You're late, Tommy. 
TOM : No, Ma you forget it's pay day. ( With decided 

shyness and awkwardness he hands her his wages). Here, 

MRS. LOVING (Proudly counting it) : But, Tommy, this is 

every bit of it. You'll need some. 
TOM: Not yet! (Constrainedly) I only wish . Say, Ma, 

I hate to see you work so hard. (Fiercely) Some day 

some day . (Breaks off). 
MRS. LOVING: Son, I'm as proud as though you had given 

me a million dollars. 

TOM (Emphatically) : I may some day, you see. (Ab- 
ruptly changing the subject) : Gee ! Ma, I'm hungry. 

What's for dinner? Smell's good. 
MRS. LOVING: Lamb and dumplings and rice. 
TOM : Gee ! I'm glad I'm living and a pie too ? 
MRS. LOVING : Apple pie, Tommy. 
TOM : Say, Ma, don't wake me up. And shall "muzzer's" 

own little boy set the table ? 
MRS. LOVING : Thank you, Son. 


TOM (Folds the green cloth, hangs it over the back of the 
arm-chair, gets white table-cloth from kitchenette and 
sets the table. The whole time he is whistling blithely a 
popular air. He lights one of the gas jets over the table) : 

MRS. LOVING: Yes, Son. 

TOM : I made "squad" today, I'm quarterback. Five other 
fellows tried to make it. We'll all have to buy new hats, 

MRS. LOVING (With surprise) : Buy new hats! Why? 

TOM (Makes a ridiculous gesture to show that his head and 
hers are both swelling) : Honest, Ma, I had to carry my 
hat in my hand tonight, couldn't even get it to perch 

MRS. LOVING (Smiling) : Well, I for one, Son, am not going 
to say anything to make you more conceited. 

TOM : You don't have to say anything. Why, Ma, ever 
since I told you, you can almost look down your own 
back your head is so high. What? (Mrs. Loving 
laughs. The outer door of the flat opens and shuts. Ra- 
chel's voice is heard). 

RACHEL (Without) : My! that was a "drefful" climb, wasn't 
it? Ma, I've got something here for you. (Appears in 
the doorway carrying packages and leading a little boy by 
the hand. The little fellow is shy but smiling). Hello, 
Tommy ! Here, take these things for me. This is Jimmy. 
Isn't he a dear? Come, Jimmy. (Tom carries the pack- 
ages into the kitchenette. Rachel leads Jimmy to Mrs. 
Loving). Ma dear, this is my brown baby. I'm going 
to take him right down stairs again. His mother is as 
sweet as can be, and let me bring him up just to see you. 
Jimmy, this is Ma dear. (Mrs. Loving turns expectantly 
to see the child. Standing before her, he raises his face 
to hers with an engaging smile. Suddenly, without word 


or warning, her body stiffens; her hands grip her sewing 
convulsively; her eyes stare. She makes no sound). 

RACHEL (Frightened) : Ma dear! What is the matter? Tom! 
Quick! (Tom r centers and goes to them). 

MRS. LOVING (Controlling herself with an effort and breath- 
ing hard) : Nothing, dears, nothing. I must be I am 
nervous tonight. (With a forced smile) How do-you-do, 
Jimmy? Now, Rachel perhaps don't you think 
you had better take him back to his mother? Good-night, 
Jimmy! (Eyes the child in a fascinated way the whole 
time he is in the room. Rachel, very much perturbed, 
takes the child out). Tom, open that window, please! 
There! That's better! (Still breathing deeply). What 
a fool I am! 

TOM (Patting his mother awkwardly on the back) : You're 
all pegged out, that's the trouble working entirely too 
hard. Can't you stop for the night and go to bed right 
after supper? 

MRS. LOVING : I'll see, Tommy dear. Now, I must look af- 
ter the supper. 

TOM : Huh ! Well, I guess not. How old do you think 
Rachel and I are anyway? I see; you think we'll break 
some of this be-au-tiful Hav-i-land china, we bought at 
the "Five and Ten Cent Store." (To Rachel who has 
just re entered wearing a puzzled and worried expression. 
She is without hat and coat) . Say, Rachel, do you think 
you're old enough ? 

RACHEL: Old enough for what, Tommy? 

TOM : To dish up the supper for Ma. 

RACHEL (With attempted sprightliness) : Ma dear thinks 
nothing can go on in this little flat unless she does it. Let's 
show her a thing or two. ( They bring in the dinner. Mrs. 
Loving with trembling hands tries to sew. Tom and Ra- 
chel watch her covertly. Presently she gets up.) 


MRS. LOVING: I'll be back in a minute, children. (Goes out 
the door that leads to the other rooms of the flat. Tom 
and Rachel look at each other). 

RACHEL (In a low voice keeping her eyes on the door) : 
Why do you suppose she acted so strangely about Jimmy ? 

TOM : Don't know nervous, I guess, worn out. I wish 
(Breaks off). 

RACHEL (Slowly) : It may be that; but she hasn't been her- 
self this afternoon. I wonder. Look out! Here she 
comes ! 

TOM (In a whisper) : Liven her up. (Rachel nods. Mrs. 
Loving re enters. Both rush to her and lead her to her 
place at the right end of the table. She smiles and tries 
to appear cheerful. They sit down, Tom opposite Mrs. 
Loving and Rachel at the side facing front. Mrs Loving 
asks grace. Her voice trembles. She helps the children 
bountifully, herself sparingly. Every once in a while she 
stops eating and stares blankly into her plate; then, re- 
membering where she is suddenly, looks around with a 
start and goes on eating. Tom and Rachel appear not to 
notice her). 

TOM: Ma's "some" cook, isn't she? 

RACHEL: Is she! Delmonico's isn't in it. 

TOM (Presently) : Say, Rachel, do you remember that Rey- 
nolds boy in the fourth year? 

RACHEL: Yes. You mean the one who is flat-nosed, frec- 
kled, and who squints and sneers? 

TOM (Looking at Rachel admiringly) : The same. 

RACHEL (Vehemently) : I hate him! 

MRS. LOVING: Rachel, you do use such violent language. 
Why hate him? 

RACHEL: I do that's all. 

TOM : Ma, if you saw him just once, you'd understand. No 
one likes him. But, then, what can you expect? His 


father's in "quod" doing time for something, I don't know 
just what. One of the fellows says he has a real decent 
mother, though. She never mentions him in any way, 
shape or form, he says. Hard on her, isn't it? Bet I'd 
keep my head shut too; you'd never get a yap out of 
me. (Rachel looks up quickly at her mother; Mrs. Lov- 
ing stiffens perceptibly, but keeps her eyes on her plate. 
Rachel catches Tom's eye; silently draws his attention to 
their mother; and shakes her head warningly at him). 

TOM (Continuing hastily and clumsily) : Well, anyway, he 
called me "Nigger" today. If his face isn't black, his 
eye is. 

RACHEL: Good! Oh! Why did you let the other one go? 

TOM (Grinning) : I knew he said things behind my back; 
but today he was hopping mad, because I made quarter- 
back. He didn't! 

RACHEL: Oh, Tommy! How lovely! Ma dear, did you 
hear that? (Chants) Our Tommy's on the team! Our 
Tommy's on the team! 

TOM (Trying not to appear pleased) : Ma dear, what did I 
say about er er "capital" enlargements? 

MRS. LOVING (Smiling) : You're right, Son. 

TOM : I hope you got that "capital," Rachel. How's that for 
Latin knowledge? Eh? 

RACHEL: I don't think much of your knowledge, Tommy 
dear; but (continuing to chant) Our Tommy's on the 
team! Our Tommy's on the team! Our (Breaks 
off). I've a good mind to kiss you. 

TOM (Threateningly) : Don't you dare. 

RACHEL (Rising and going toward him) : I will! I will! I 

TOM (Rising, too, and dodging her) : No, you don't, young 
lady. (A tremendous tussle and scuffle ensues). 


MRS. LOVING (Laughing) : For Heaven's sake ! children, do 
stop playing and eat your supper. (They nod brightly 
at each other behind her back and return smiling to the 

RACHEL (Sticking out her tongue at Tom) : I will ! 

TOM (Mimicking her) : You won't! 

MRS. LOVING: Children! (They eat for a time in silence). 

RACHEL: Ma dear, have you noticed Mary Shaw doesn't 
come here much these days? 

MRS. LOVING : Why, that's so, she doesn't. Have you two 
quarreled ? 

RACHEL: No, Ma dear. (Uncomfortably). I think I 
know the reason but I don't like to say, unless I'm cer- 

TOM : Well, I know. I've seen her lately with those two 
girls who have just come from the South. Twice she 
bowed stiffly, and the last time made believe she didn't see 

RACHEL : Then you think ? Oh ! I was afraid it was that. 

TOM (Bitterly) : Yes we're "niggers" that's why. 

MRS. LOVING (Slowly and sadly) : Rachel, that's one of the 
things I can't save you from. I worried considerably 
about Mary, at first you do take your friendships so 
seriously. I knew exactly how it would end. (Pauses). 
And then I saw that if Mary Shaw didn't teach you the 
lesson some one else would. They don't want you, 
dearies, when you and they grow up. You may have 
everything in your favor but they don't dare to like you. 

RACHEL : I know all that is generally true but I had hoped 
that Mary (Breaks off). 

TOM : Well, I guess we can still go on living even if people 
don't speak to us. I'll never bow to her again that's 


MRS. LOVING : But, Son, that wouldn't be polite, if she bowed 

to you first. 

TOM : Can't help it. I guess I can be blind, too. 
MRS. LOVING (Wearily)-. Well perhaps you are right I 

don't know. It's the way I feel about it too but but 

I wish my son always to be a gentleman. 
TOM : If being a gentleman means not being a man I don't 

wish to be one. 
RACHEL: Oh! well, perhaps we're wrong about Mary I 

hope we are. (Sighs) . Anyway, let's forget it. Tommy 

guess what I've got. (Rises, goes out into entryway 

swiftly, and returns holding up a small bag). Ma dear 

treated. Guess ! 
TOM : Ma, you're a thoroughbred. Well, let's see it's a 

dozen dill pickles? 
RACHEL : Oh ! stop fooling. 
TOM: I'm not. Tripe? 
RACHEL: Silly! 
TOM : Hog's jowl? 

RACHEL: Ugh! Give it up quarter-back. 
TOM: Pig's feet? 
RACHEL (In pretended disgust) : Oh ! Ma dear send him 

from the table. It's CANDY! 
TOM : Candy? Funny, I never thought of that ! And I was 

just about to say some nice, delicious chitlings. Candy! 

Well ! Well ! (Rachel disdainfully carries the candy to 

her mother, returns to her own seat with the bag and helps 

herself. She ignores Tom). 
TOM (In an aggrieved voice) : You see, Ma, how she treats 

me. (In affected tones) I have a good mind, young lady 

to punish you, er er corporeally speaking. Tut! Tut! 

I have a mind to master thee I mean you. Methinks 

that if I should advance upon you, apply, perchance, two 

or three digits to your glossy locks and extract aha! 


say, a strand you would no more defy me. (He starts 
to rise). 

MRS. LOVING (Quickly and sharply) : Rachel! give Tom the 
candy and stop playing. (Rachel obeys. They eat in 
silence. The old depression returns. When the candy 
is all gone, Rachel pushes her chair back, and is just about 
to rise, when her mother, who is very evidently nerving 
herself for something, stops her). Just a moment, Ra- 
chel. (Pauses, continuing slowly and very seriously). 
Tom and Rachel ! I have been trying to make up my mind 
for some time whether a certain thing is my duty or not. 
Today I have decided it is. You are old enough, 
now, and I see you ought to be told. Do you know 
what day this is? (Both Tom and Rachel have been 
watching their mother intently). It's the sixteenth of 
October. Does that mean anything to either of you? 

TOM and RACHEL (Wonderingly) : No. 

MRS. LOVING (Looking at both of them thoughtfully, half 
to herself) : No I don't know why it should. (Slowly) 
Ten years ago today your father and your half-brother 

TOM : I do remember, now, that you told us it was in Oc- 

RACHEL (With a sigh) : That explains today. 

MRS. LOVING: Yes, Rachel. (Pauses). Do you know- 
how they died? 

TOM and RACHEL: Why, no. 

MRS. LOVING: Did it ever strike you as strange that they 
died the same day? 

TOM : Well, yes. 

RACHEL : We often wondered, Tom and I ; but but some- 
how we never quite dared to ask you. You you al- 
ways refused to talk about them, you know, Ma dear. 


MRS. LOVING: Did you think that perhaps the reason 
I I wouldn't talk about them was because, because 
I was ashamed of them? (Tom and Rachel look un- 

RACHEL: Well, Ma dear we we did wonder. 

MRS. LOVING (Questioningly) : And you thought? 

RACHEL (Haltingly) : W-e-1-1 

MRS. LOVING (Sharply) : Yes? 

TOM : Oh ! come, now, Rachel, you know we haven't 
bothered about it at all. Why should we? We've been 

MRS. LOVING: But when you have thought you've been 
ashamed? (Intensely) Have you? 

TOM : Now, Ma, aren't you making a lot out of nothing? 

MRS. LOVING (Slowly) : No. (Half to herself) You evade 
both of you. You have been ashamed. And I never 
dreamed until today you could take it this way. How 
blind how almost criminally blind, I have been. 

RACHEL (Tremulously) : Oh! Ma dear, don't! (Tom and 
Rachel watch their mother anxiously and uncomfortably. 
Mrs. Loving is very evidently nerving herself for some- 

MRS. LOVING (Very slowly, with restrained emotion) : Tom 
and Rachel ! 

TOM : Ma ! 

RACHEL : Ma dear ! (A tense, breathless pause) . 

MRS. LOVING (Bracing herself): They they were 

TOM and RACHEL (In a whisper) : Lynched! 

MRS. LOVING (Slowly, laboring under strong but restrained 
emotion) : Yes by Christian people in a Christian land. 
We found out afterwards they were all church members 
in good standing the best people. (A silence). Your 


father was a man among men. He was a fanatic. He 
was a Saint ! 

TOM (Breathing with difficulty) : Ma can you will you 
tell us about it? 

MRS. LOVING: I believe it to be my duty. (A silence). 
When I married your father I was a widow. My little 
George was seven years old. From the very beginning he 
worshiped your father. He followed him around just 
like a little dog. All children were like that with him. I 
myself have never seen anybody like him. "Big" seems 
to fit him better than any other word. He was big- 
bodied big-souled. His loves were big and his 
hates. You can imagine, then, how the wrongs of the 
Negro ate into his soul. (Pauses). He was utterly 
fearless. (A silence). He edited and owned, for several 
years, a small negro paper. In it he said a great many 
daring things. I used to plead with him to be more care- 
ful. I was always afraid for him. For a long time, noth- 
ing happened he was too important to the community. 
And then one night ten years ago a mob made up of 
the respectable people in the town lynched an innocent 
black man and what was worse they knew him to be 
innocent. A white man was guilty. I never saw your 
father so wrought up over anything: he couldn't eat; he 
couldn't sleep; he brooded night and day over it. And 
then realizing fully the great risk he was running, al- 
though I begged him not to and all his friends also he 
deliberately and calmly went to work and published a 
most terrific denunciation of that mob. The old prophets 
in the Bible were not more terrible than he. A day or 
two later, he received an anonymous letter, very evidently 
from an educated man, calling upon him to retract his 
words in the next issue. If he refused his life was 
threatened. The next week's issue contained an arraign- 


ment as frightful, if not more so, than the previous one. 
Each word was white-hot, searing. That night, some 
dozen masked men came to our house. 

RACHEL (Moaning) : Oh, Ma dear! Ma dear! 

MRS. LOVING (Too absorbed to hear) : We were not asleep 
your father and I. They broke down the front door 
and made their way to our bedroom. Your father kissed 
me and took up his revolver. It was always loaded. 
They broke down the door. (A silence. She continues 
slowly and quietly) I tried to shut my eyes I could not. 
Four masked men fell they did not move any more 
after a little. (Pauses). Your father was finally over- 
powered and dragged out. In the hall my little seven- 
teen-year-old George tried to rescue him. Your father 
begged him not to interfere. He paid no attention. It 
ended in their dragging them both out. (Pauses). My 
little George was a man! (Controls herself with an 
effort). He never made an outcry. His last words to 
me were: "Ma, I am glad to go with Father." I could 
only nod to him. (Pauses). While they were dragging 
them down the steps, I crept into the room where you 
were. You were both asleep. Rachel, I remember, was 
smiling. I knelt down by you and covered my ears with 
my hands and waited. I could not pray I couldn't for 
a long time afterwards. (A silence). It was very still 
when I finally uncovered my ears. The only sounds were 
the faint rustle of leaves and the "tap-tapping of the twig 
of a tree" against the window. I hear it still sometimes 
in my dreams. It was the tree where they were. (A 
silence). While I had knelt there waiting I had made 
up my mind what to do. I dressed myself and then I 
woke you both up and dressed you. (Pauses). We set 
forth. It was a black, still night. Alternately dragging 
you along and carrying you I walked five miles to the 


house of some friends. They took us in, and we remained 
there until I had seen my dead laid comfortably at rest. 
They lent me money to come North I couldn't bring you 
up in the South. (A silence). Always remember this: 
There never lived anywhere or at any time any two 
whiter or more beautiful souls. God gave me one for a 
husband and one for a son and I am proud. (Brokenly) 
You must be proud too. (A long silence. Mrs. 
Loving bows her head in her hands. Tom controls him- 
self with an effort. Rachel creeps softly to her mother, 
kneels beside her and lifts the hem of her dress to her 
lips. She does not dare touch her. She adores her with 
her eyes). 

MRS. LOVING (Presently raising her head and glancing at 
the clock) : Tom, it's time, now, for you to go to work. 
Rachel and I will finish up here. 

TOM (Still laboring under great emotion goes out into the 
entryway and comes back and stands in the doorway with 
his cap. He twirls it around and around nervously) : 1 
want you to know, Ma, before I go how how proud I 
am. Why, I didn't believe two people could be like that 
and live. And then to find out that one was your 
own father and one your own brother. It's wonder- 
ful ! I'm not much yet, Ma, but I've I've just got to 
be something now. (Breaks off). (His face becomes 
distorted with passion and hatred). When I think 
when I think of those devils with white skins living 
somewhere today living and happy I see red! I 
I goodbye! (Rushes out, the door bangs). 

MRS. LOVING (Half to herself) : I was afraid of just that. 
I wonder if I did the wise thing after all. 

RACHEL (With a gesture infinitely tender, puts her arms 
around her mother) : Yes, Ma dear, you did. And, here- 
after, Tom and I share and share alike with you. To 


think, Ma dear, of ten years of this all alone. It's 
wicked! (A short silence). 

MRS. LOVING: And, Rachel, about that dear, little boy, 

RACHEL: Now, Ma dear, tell me tomorrow. You've stood 
enough for one day. 

MRS. LOVING: No, it's better over and done with all at 
once. If I had seen that dear child suddenly any other 
day than this I might have borne it better. When he 
lifted his little face to me and smiled for a moment 
I thought it was the end of all things. Rachel, he is the 
image of my boy my George! 

RACHEL: Ma dear! 

MRS. LOVING: And, Rachel it will hurt to see him again. 

RACHEL: I understand, Ma dear. (A silence. Suddenly) 
Ma dear, I am beginning to see to understand so much. 
(Slowly and thoughtfully) Ten years ago, all things being 
equal, Jimmy might have been George? Isn't that so? 

MRS. LOVING : Why yes, if I understand you. 

RACHEL:! guess that doesn't sound very clear. It's only 
getting clear to me, little by little. Do you mind my 
thinking out loud to you? 

MRS. LOVING : No, chickabiddy. 

RACHEL: If Jimmy went South now and grew up he 
might be a George? 


RACHEL: Then, the South is full of tens, hundreds, thou- 
sands of little boys, who, one day may be and some of 
them with certainty Georges? 

MRS. LOVING : Yes, Rachel. 

RACHEL: And the little babies, the dear, little, helpless 
babies, being born today now and those who will be, 
tomorrow, and all the tomorrows to come have that 
sooner or later to look forward to? They will laugh and 


play and sing and be happy and grow up, perhaps, and be 
ambitious just for that? 

MRS. LOVING: Yes, Rachel. 

RACHEL: Then, everywhere, everywhere, throughout the 
South, there are hundreds of dark mothers who live in 
fear, terrible, suffocating fear, whose rest by night is 
broken, and whose joy by day in their babies on their 
hearts is three parts pain. Oh, I know this is true 
for this is the way I should feel, if I were little Jimmy's 
mother. How horrible ! Why it would be more merci- 
ful to strangle the little things at birth. And so this 
nation this white Christian nation has deliberately set 
its curse upon the most beautiful the most holy thing in 
life motherhood ! Why it makes you doubt God ! 

MRS. LOVING : Oh, hush ! little girl. Hush ! 

RACHEL (Suddenly with a great cry} : Why, Ma dear, you 
know. You were a mother, George's mother. So, this is 
what it means. Oh, Ma dear! Ma dear! (Faints in 
her mother's arms). 



TIME: October sixteenth, four years later; seven o'clock in 
the morning. 

SCENE: The same room. There have been very evident 
improvements made. The room is not so bare; it is 
cosier. On the shelf, before each window, are potted 
red geraniums. At the windows are green denim dra- 
pery curtains covering fresh white dotted Swiss inner 
curtains. At each doorway are green denim portieres. 
On the wall between the kitchenette and the entrance 
to the outer rooms of the flat, a new picture is hanging, 
Millet's <( The Man With the Hoe." Hanging against 
the side of the run that faces front is Watts's "Hope." 
There is another easy-chair at the left front. The table 
in the center is covered with a white table-cloth. A 
small asparagus fern is in the middle of this. When 
the curtain rises there is the clatter of dishes in the 
kitchenette. Presently Rachel enters with dishes and 
silver in her hands. She is clad in a bungalow apron. 
She is noticeably all of four years older. She frowns 
as she sets the table. There is a set expression about 
the mouth. A child's voice is heard from the rooms 

JIMMY (Still unseen) : Ma Rachel! 

RACHEL (Pauses and smiles) : What is it, Jimmy boy? 

JIMMY (Appearing in rear doorway, half-dressed, breath- 
less, and tremendously excited over something. Rushes 
toward Rachel) : Three guesses ! Three guesses ! Ma 
Rachel ! 


RACHEL (Her whole face softening) : Well, let's see 
maybe there is a circus in town. 

JIMMY: No siree! (In a sing-song) You're not right! 
You're not right! 

RACHEL: Well, maybe Ma Loving's going to take you 

JIMMY: No! (Vigorously shaking his head) It's 

RACHEL (Interrupting quickly) You said I could have three 
guesses, honey. I've only had two. 

JIMMY: I thought you had three. How many are three? 

RACHEL (Counting on her fingers) : One! Two! Three! 
I've only had one! two! See? Perhaps Uncle Tom 
is going to give you some candy. 

JIMMY (Dancing up and down): No! No! No! 
(Catches his breath) I leaned over the bath-tub, way 
over, and got hold of the chain with the button on the 
end, and dropped it into the little round place in the 
bottom. And then I runned lots and lots of water in the 
tub and climbed over and fell in splash ! just like a big 
stone; (Loudly) and took a bath all by myself alone. 

RACHEL (Laughing and hugging him) : All by yourself, 
honey? You ran the water, too, boy, not "runned" it. 
What I want to know is, where was Ma Loving all this 

JIMMY: I stole in "creepy-creep" and looked at Ma Loving 
and she was awful fast asleep. (Proudly) Ma Rachel, 
I'm a "nawful," big boy now, aren't I? I are almost a 
man, aren't I? 

RACHEL : Oh ! Boy, I'm getting tired of correcting you "I 
am almost a man, am I not?" Jimmy, boy, what will Ma 
Rachel do, if you grow up? Why, I won't have a little 
boy any more! Honey, you mustn't grow up, do you 
hear? You mustn't. 


JIMMY: Oh, yes, I must; and you'll have me just the same, 
Ma Rachel. I'm going to be a policeman and make lots 
of money for you and Ma Loving and Uncle Tom, and 
I'm going to buy you some trains and fire-engines, and 
little, cunning ponies, and some rabbits, and some great 
'normous banks full of money lots of it. And then, we 
are going to live in a great, big castle and eat lots of ice 
cream, all the time, and drink lots and lots of nice pink 

RACHEL : What a generous Jimmy boy ! (Hugs him} . Be- 
fore I give you "morning kiss," I must see how clean my 
boy is. (Inspects teeth, ears and neck). Jimmy, you're 
sweet and clean enough to eat. (Kisses him; he tries to 
strangle her with hugs) . Now the hands. Oh ! Jimmy, 
look at those nails! Oh! Jimmy! (Jimmy wriggles and 
tries to get his hands away). Honey, get my file off of 
my bureau and go to Ma Loving; she must be awake by 
this time. Why, honey, what's the matter with your 

JIMMY. I don't know. I thought they looked kind of 
queer, myself. What's the matter with them? 

RACHEL (Laughing) : You have your shoes on the wrong 

JIMMY (Bursts out laughing) : Isn't that most 'normously 
funny? I'm a case, aren't I (pauses thoughtfully) I 
mean am I not, Ma Rachel? 

RACHEL: Yes, honey, a great big case of molasses. Come, 
you must hurry now, and get dressed. You don't want 
to be late for school, you know. 

JIMMY : Ma Rachel ! (Shyly) I I have been making some- 
thing for you all the morning ever since I waked up. 
It's awful nice. It's stoop down, Ma Rachel, please 
a great, big (puts both arms about her neck and gives 
her a noisy kiss. Rachel kisses him in return, then pushes 


his head back. For a long moment they look at each 
other; and, then, laughing joyously, he makes believe he 
is a horse, and goes prancing out of the room. Rachel, 
with a softer, gentler expression, continues setting the 
table. Presently, Mrs. Loving, bent and worn-looking, 
appears in the doorway in the rear. She limps a trifle.} 

MRS. LOVING : Good morning, dearie. How's my little girl, 
this morning? (Looks around the room). Why, where's 
Tom? I was certain I heard him running the water in 
the tub, sometime ago. (Limps into the room). 

RACHEL (Laughing) : Tom isn't up yet. Have you seen 
Jimmy ? 

MRS. LOVING : Jimmy ? No. I didn't know he was awake, 

RACHEL (Going to her mother and kissing her): Well! 
What do you think of that ! I sent the young gentleman 
to you, a few minutes ago, for help with his nails. He 
is very much grown up this morning, so I suppose that 
explains why he didn't come to you. Yesterday, all day, 
you know, he was a puppy. No one knows what he will 
be by tomorrow. All of this, Ma dear, is preliminary to 
telling you that Jimmy boy has stolen a march on you, 
this morning. 

MRS. LOVING : Stolen a march ! How ? 

RACHEL: It appears that he took his bath all by himself 
and, as a result, he is so conceited, peacocks aren't in it 
with him. 

MRS. LOVING: I heard the water running and thought, of 
course, it was Tom. Why, the little rascal! I must go 
and see how he has left things. I was just about to wake 
him up. 

RACHEL: Rheumatism's not much better this morning, Ma 
dear. (Confronting her mother) Tell me the truth, now, 
did you or did you not try that liniment I bought you yes- 
terday ? 


MRS. LOVING (Guiltily) : Well, Rachel, you see it was this 
way, I was I was so tired, last night, I I really for- 
got it. 

RACHEL: I thought as much. Shame on you! 

MRS. LOVING : As soon as I walk around a bit it will be all 
right. It always is. It's bad, when I first get up that's 
all. I'll be spry enough in a few minutes. (Limps to 
the door; pauses) Rachel, I don't know why the thought 
should strike me, but how very strangely things turn out. 
If any one had told me four years ago that Jimmy would 
be living with us, I should have laughed at him. Then it 
hurt to see him; now it would hurt not to. (Softly) 
Rachel, sometimes I wonder if, perhaps, God hasn't 
relented a little and given me back my boy, my George. 

RACHEL: The whole thing was strange, wasn't it? 

MRS. LOVING: Yes, God's ways are strange and often very 
beautiful ; perhaps all would be beautiful if we only un- 

RACHEL: God's ways are certainly very mysterious. Why, 
of all the people in this apartment-house, should Jimmy's 
father and mother be the only two to take the smallpox, 
and the only two to die. It's queer ! 

MRS. LOVING: It doesn't seem like two years ago, does it? 

RACHEL: Two years, Ma dear! Why it's three the third of 

MRS. LOVING : Are you sure, Rachel ? 

RACHEL (Gently) : I don't believe I could ever forget that, 
Ma dear. 

MRS. LOVING: No, I suppose not. That is one of the dif- 
ferences between youth and old age youth attaches tre- 
mendous importance to dates, old age does not. 

RACHEL (Quickly) : Ma dear, don't talk like that. You're 
not old. 


MRS. LOVING : Oh ! yes, I am, dearie. It's sixty long years 
since I was born; and I am much older than that, much 

RACHEL: Please, Ma dear, please! 

MRS. LOVING (Smiling) : Very well, dearie, I won't say it 
any more. (A pause). By the way, how does Tom 
strike you, these days? 

RACHEL (Avoiding her mother's eye) : The same old, ban- 
tering, cheerful Tom. Why? 

MRS. LOVING : I know he's all that, dearie, but it isn't pos- 
sible for him to be really cheerful. (Pauses; goes on 
wistfully) When you are little, we mothers can kiss away 
all the trouble, but when you grow up and go out into 
the world and get hurt we are helpless. There is noth- 
ing we can do. 

RACHEL : Don't worry about Tom, Ma dear, he's game. He 
doesn't show the white feather. 

MRS. LOVING : Did you see him, when he came in, last night ? 


MRS. LOVING: Had he had any luck? 

RACHEL: No. (Firmly) Ma dear, we may as well face it 
it's hopeless, I'm afraid. 

MRS. LOVING : I'm afraid you are right. (Shakes her head 
sadly) Well, I'll go and see how Jimmy has left things 
and wake up Tom, if he isn't awake yet. It's the waking 
up in the mornings that's hard. (Goes limping out rear 
door. Rachel frowns as she continues going back and 
forth between the kitchenette and the table. Presently 
Tom appears in the door at the rear. He watches Rachel 
several moments before he speaks or enters. Rachel looks 
grim enough). 

TOM (Entering and smiling) : Good-morning, "Merry Sun- 
shine" ! Have you, perhaps, been taking a er pro- 
longed draught of that very delightful beverage vine- 


gar? (Rachel, zvith a knife in her hand, looks up un- 
smiling. In pretended fright) I take it all back, I'm sure. 
May I request, humbly, that before I press my chaste, 
morning salute upon your forbidding lips, that you that 
you that you er in some way rid yourself of that 
er knife? (Bows as Rachel puts it down). I thank 
you. (He comes to her and tips her head back; gently) 
What's the matter with my little Sis? 

RACHEL (Her face softening) : Tommy dear, don't mind me. 
I'm getting wicked, I guess. At present I feel just like 
like curdled milk. Once upon a time, I used to have 
quite a nice disposition, didn't I, Tommy? 

TOM (Smiling) : Did you, indeed! I'm not going to flatter 
you. Well, brace yourself, old lady. Ready, One ! Two ! 
Three ! Go ! (Kisses her, then puts his hands on either 
side of her face, and raising it, looks down into it). 
You're a pretty, decent little sister, Sis, that's what T. 
Loving thinks about it; and he knows a thing or two. 
(Abruptly looking around) Has the paper come yet? 

RACHEL: I haven't looked, it must have, though, by this 
time. (Tom, hands in his pockets, goes into the vestibule. 
He whistles. The outer door opens and closes, and pres- 
ently he saunters back, newspaper in hand. He lounges 
carelessly in the arm-chair and looks at Rachel) . 

TOM : May T. Loving be of any service to you? 

RACHEL: Service! How? 

TOM : May he run, say, any errands, set the table, cook the 
break fast ? Anything ? 

RACHEL (Watching the lazy figure) : You look like working. 

TOM (Grinning) : It's at least polite to offer. 

RACHEL: You can't do anything; I don't trust you to do it 
right. You may just sit there, and read your paper 
and try to behave yourself. 


TOM (In affectedly meek tones) : Thank you, ma'am. 
(Opens the paper, but does not read. Jimmy presently 
enters riding around the table on a cane. Rachel peeps in 
from the kitchenette and smiles. Tom puts down his 
paper). 'Lo! Big Fellow, what's this? 

JIMMY (Disgustedly) : How can I hear? I'm miles and 
miles away yet. (Prances around and around the room; 
presently stops near Torn, attempting a gruff voice) Good- 
morning ! 

TOM (Lowering his paper again) : Bless my stars ! Who's 
this? Well, if it isn't Mr. Mason! How-do-you-do, Mr. 
Mason? That's a beautiful horse you have there. He 
limps a trifle in his left, hind, front foot, though. 

JIMMY: He doesn't! 

TOM : He does ! 

JIMMY (Fiercely) : He doesn't! 

TOM (As fiercely) : I say he does! 

MRS. LOVING (Appearing in the doorway in the rear) : For 
Heaven's sake ! What is this ? Good-morning, Tommy. 

TOM (Rising and going toward his mother, Jimmy following 
astride of the cane in his rear) : Good-morning, Ma. 
(Kisses her; lays his head on her shoulder and makes 
believe he is crying; in a high falsetto) Ma! Jimmy says 
his horse doesn't limp in his hind, front right leg, and I 
say he does. 

JIMMY (Throws his cane aside, rolls on the floor and kicks 
up his heels. He roars with laughter) : I think Uncle 
Tom is funnier than any clown in the "Kickus." 

TOM (Raising his head and looking down at Jimmy; Rachel 
stands in the kitchenette doorway) : In the what, Jimmy? 

JIMMY: In the "kickus," of course. 

TOM: "Kickus"! "Kickus"! Oh, Lordy! (Tom and Ra- 
chel shriek with laughter; Mrs. Loving looks amused; 
Jimmy, very much affronted, gets upon his feet again. 


Tom leans over and swings Jimmy high in the air). Boy, 

you'll be the death of me yet. Circus, son! Circus! 
JIMMY (From on high, soberly and with injured dignity) : 

Well, I thinks "Kickus" and circus are very much alike. 

Please put me down. 
RACHEL (From the doorway) : We laugh, honey, because 

we love you so much. 
JIMMY (Somewhat mollified, to Tom) : Is that so, Uncle 

TOM : Surest thing in the world ! (Severely) Come, get 

down, young man. Don't you know you'll wear my arms 

out? Besides, there is something in my lower vest pocket, 

that's just dying to come to you. Get down, I say. 
JIMMY (Laughing) : How can I get down? (Wriggles 

around) . 
TOM: How should I know? Just get down, of course. 

(Very suddenly puts Jimmy down on his feet. Jimmy 

tries to climb up over him). 
JIMMY: Please sit down, Uncle Tom? 
TOM (In feigned surprise) : Sit down! What for? 
JIMMY (Pummeling him with his little fists, loudly) : Why, 

you said there was something for me in your pocket. 
TOM (Sitting dozvn) : So I did. How forgetful I ami 
JIMMY (Finding a bright, shiny penny, shrieks) : Oh! Oh! 

Oh! (Climbs up and kisses Tom noisily). 
TOM : Why, Jimmy ! You embarrass me. My ! My ! 
JIMMY: What is 'barrass? 
TOM : You make me blush. 
JIMMY: What's that? 
MRS. LOVING: Come, come, children! Rachel has the 

breakfast on the table. (Tom sits in Jimmy's place and 

Jimmy tries to drag him out). 
TOM : What's the matter, now ? 
JIMMY: You're in my place. 


TOM : Well, can't you sit in mine? 

JIMMY (Wistfully) : I wants to sit by my Ma Rachel. 

TOM : Well, so do I. 

RACHEL: Tom, stop teasing Jimmy. Honey, don't you let 

him bother you ; ask him please prettily. 
JIMMY: Please prettily, Uncle Tom. 
TOM: Oh! well then. (Gets up and takes his own place. 

They sit as they did in Act I. only Jimmy sits between 

Tom, at the end t and Rachel). 
JIMMY (Loudly): Oh, goody! goody! goody! We've got 

JIMMY (Silenced for a few moments; Rachel ties a big 

napkin around his neck, and prepares his breakfast. He 

breaks forth again suddenly and excitedly) : Uncle Tom! 
TOM: Sir? 
JIMMY: I took a bath this morning, all by myself alone, in 

the bath-tub, and I ranned, no (Doubtfully) I runned, I 

think the water all in it, and got in it all by myself ; and 

Ma Loving thought it was you ; but it was me. 
TOM (In feignedly severe tones) : See here, young man, this 

won't do. Don't you know I'm the only one who is 

allowed to do that here? It's a perfect waste of water 

that's what it is. 
JIMMY (Undaunted): Oh! no, you're not the only one, 

'cause Ma Loving and Ma Rachel and me alls takes 

baths every single morning. So, there! 
TOM : You 'barrass me. (Jimmy opens his mouth to ask a 

question; Tom quickly) Young gentleman, your mouth is 

open. Close it, sir; close it. 

MRS. LOVING : Tom, you're as big a child exactly as Jimmy. 
TOM (Bowing to right and left) : You compliment me. I 

thank you, I am sure. 

(They finish in silence.) 


JIMMY (Sighing with contentment) : I'm through, Ma 

MRS. LOVING: Jimmy, you're a big boy, now, aren't you? 
(Jimmy nods his head vigorously and looks proud.) I 
wonder if you're big enough to wash your own hands, 
this morning? 

JIMMY (Shrilly) : Yes, ma'am. 

MRS.LOVING: Well, if they're beautifully clean, I'll give you 
another penny. 

JIMMY (Excitedly to Rachel) : Please untie my napkin, Ma 
Rachel! (Rachel does so.) "Excoose" me, please. 

MRS. LOVING AND RACHEL: Certainly. (Jimmy climbs 
down and rushes out at the rear doorway.) 

MRS. LOVING (Solemnly and slowly; breaking the silence) : 
Rachel, do you know what day this is? 

RACHEL (Looking at her plate; slowly) : Yes, Ma dear. 


TOM (Grimly and slowly) : Yes, Ma. 
(A silence.) 

MRS. LOVING (Impressively) : We must never as long as 
we live forget this day. 

RACHEL: No, Ma dear. 

TOM : No, Ma. 

(Another silence) 

TOM (Slowly; as though thinking aloud) : I hear people 
talk about God's justice and I wonder. There, are you, 
Ma. There isn't a sacrifice that you haven't made. 
You're still working your fingers to the bone sewing 
just so all of us may keep on living. Rachel is a graduate 
in Domestic Science; she was high in her class; most 
of the girls below her in rank have positions in the 
schools. I'm an electrical engineer and I've tried 
steadily for several months to practice my profession. 
It seems our educations aren't of much use to us: we 


aren't allowed to make good because our skins are dark. 
(Pauses) And, in the South today, there are white men 
(Controls himself). They have everything; they're 
well-dressed, well-fed, well-housed; they're prosperous in 
business; they're important politically; they're pillars in 
the church. I know ail this is true I've inquired. 
Their children (our ages, some of them) are growing up 
around them; and they are having a square deal handed 
out to them college, position, wealth, and best of all, 
freedom, without galling restrictions, to work out their 
own salvations. With ability, they may become 
anything; and all this will be true of their children's 
children after them. (A pause). Look at us and look 
at them. We are destined to failure they, to success. 
Their children shall grow up in hope; ours, in despair. 
Our hands are clean; theirs are red with blood red 
with the blood of a noble man and a boy. They're 
nothing but low, cowardly, bestial murderers. The scum 
of the earth shall succeed. God's justice, I suppose. 

MRS. LOVING (Rising and going to Tom; brokenly) : Tom, 
promise me one thing. 

TOM (Rises gently) : What is it, Ma? 

MRS. LOVING: That you'll try not to lose faith in God. 
I've been where you are now and it's black. Tom, we 
don't understand God's ways. My son, I know, now 
He is beautiful. Tom, won't you try to believe, again? 

TOM (Slowly, but not convincingly) : I'll try, Ma. 

MRS. LOVING (Sighs) : Each one, I suppose, has to work 
out his own salvation. (After a pause) Rachel, if you'll 
get Jimmy ready, I'll take him to school. I've got to go 
down town shopping for a customer, this morning. (Ra- 
chel rises and goes out the rear doorway; Mrs. Loving, 
limping very slightly now, follows. She turns and looks 
back yearningly at Tom, who has seated himself again, 


and is staring unseeingly at his plate. She goes out. Tom 
sits without moving until he hears Mrs. Loving' s voice 
within and Rachel's faintly; then he gets the paper, 
sits in the arm-chair and pretends to read). 

MRS. LOVING (From within): A yard, you say, Rachel? 
You're sure that will be enough. Oh! you've measured 
it. Anything else ? What ? Oh ! all right. I'll be back 
by one o'clock, anyway. Good-bye. (Enters with 
Jimmy. Both are dressed for the street. Tom looks up 
brightly at Jimmy) . 

TOM : Hello ! Big Fellow, where are you taking my mother, 
I'd like to know? This is a pretty kettle of fish. 

JIMMY (Laughing) : Aren't you funny, Uncle Tom! Why, 
I'm not taking her anywhere. She's taking me. (Im- 
portantly) I'm going to school. 

TOM : Big Fellow, come here. (Jimmy comes with a rush). 
Now, where's that penny I gave you? No, I don't want 
to see it. All right. Did Ma Loving give you another? 
(Vigorous noddings of the head from Jimmy). I wish 
you to promise me solemnly Now, listen! Here, don't 
wriggle so! not to buy Listen! too many pints of ice- 
cream with my penny. Understand? 

JIMMY (Very seriously) : Yes, Uncle Tom, cross my "tum- 
my" ! I promise. 

TOM : Well, then, you may go. I guess that will be all for 
the present. (Jimmy loiters around looking up wistfully 
into his face). Well? 

JIMMY: Haven't you aren't you isn't you forgetting 
something ? 

TOM (Grabbing at his pockets) : Bless my stars! what now? 

JIMMY: If you could kind of lean over this way. (Tom 
leans forward). No, not that way. (Tom leans toward 
the Me away from Jimmy). No, this way, this way! 


(Laughs and pummels him with his little fists). This 

TOM (Leaning toward Jimmy) : Well, why didn't you say 
so, at first ? 

JIMMY (Puts his arms around Tom's neck and kisses him) : 
Good-bye, dear old Uncle Tom. (Tom catches him and 
hugs him hard). I likes to be hugged like that I can 
taste sau-sa-ges. 

TOM : You 'barrass me, son. Here, Ma, take your boy. Now 
remember all I told you, Jimmy. 

JIMMY: I 'members. 

MRS. LOVING: God bless you, Tom. Good luck. 

JIMMY (To Tom) : God bless you, Uncle Tom. Good luck ! 

TOM (Much affected, but with restraint, rising) : Thank 
you Good-bye. (Mrs. Loving and Jimmy go out through 
the vestibule. Tom lights a cigarette and tries to read 
the paper. He soon sinks into a brown study. Presently 
Rachel enters humming. Tom relights his cigarette; and 
Rachel proceeds to clear the table. In the midst of this, 
the bell rings three distinct times). 

RACHEL and TOM : John ! 

TOM : I wonder what's up It's rather early for him. I'll 
go. (Rises leisurely and goes out into the vestibule. The 
outer door opens and shuts. Men's voices are heard. 
Tom and John Strong enter. During the ensuing con- 
versation Rachel finishes clearing the table, takes the 
fern off, puts on the green table-cloth, places a doily care- 
fully in the centre, and replaces the fern. She apparently 
pays no attention to the conversation between her brother 
and Strong. After she has finished, she goes to the 
kitchenette. The rattle of dishes can be heard now and 


RACHEL (Brightly) : Well, stranger, how does it happen 
you're out so early in the morning? 

STRONG : I hadn't seen any of you for a week, and I thought 
I'd come by, on my way to work, and find out how things 
are going. There is no need of asking how you are, Ra- 
chel. And the mother and the boy? 

RACHEL: Ma dear's rheumatism still holds on. Jimmy's 

STRONG: I'm sorry to hear that your mother is not well. 
There isn't a remedy going that my mother doesn't know 
about. I'll get her advice and let you know. (Turning 
to Tom) Well, Tom, how goes it? (Strong and Tom 

TOM (Smiling grimly) : There's plenty of "go," but no "git 
there." (There is a pause). 

STRONG : I was hoping for better news. 

TOM : If I remember rightly, not so many years ago, you 
tried and failed. Then, a colored man had hardly a 
ghost of a show ; now he hasn't even the ghost of a ghost. 
(Rachel has finished and goes into the kitchenette). 

STRONG: That's true enough. (A pause). What are you 
going to do? 

TOM (Slowly) : I'll do this little "going act" of mine the rest 
of the week; (pauses) and then, I'll do anything I can get 
to do. If necessary, I suppose, I can be a "White- wing." 

STRONG: Tom, I came (Breaks off; continuing slowly) 
Six years ago, I found I was ttp against a stone wall 
your experience, you see, to the letter. I couldn't let my 
mother starve, so I became a waiter. (Pauses). I 
studied waiting ; I made a science of it, an art. In a com- 
paratively short time, I'm a head-waiter and I'm up 
against another stonewall. I've reached my limit. I'm 
thirty-two now, and I'll die a head-waiter. (A pause). 


College friends, so-called, and acquaintances used to come 
into the restaurant. One or two at first attempted to 
commiserate with me. They didn't do it again. I waited 
upon them I did my best. Many of them tipped me. 
(Pauses and smiles grimly). I can remember my first 
tip, still. They come in yet; many of them are already 
powers, not only in this city, but in the country. Some 
of them make a personal request that I wait upon them. I 
am an artist, now, in my proper sphere. They tip me well, 
extremely well the larger the tip, the more pleased they 
are with me. Because of me, in their own eyes, they're 
philanthropists. Amusing, isn't it? I can stand their at- 
titude now. My philosophy learned hard, is to make 
the best of everything you can, and go on. At best, life 
isn't so very long. You're wondering why I'm telling 
you all this. I wish you to see things exactly as they are. 
There are many disadvantages and some advantages in 
being a waiter. My mother can live comfortably; I am 
able, even, to see that she gets some of the luxuries. Tom, 
it's this way I can always get you a job as a waiter; 
I'll teach you the art. If you care to begin the end of 
the week all right. And remember this, as long as I 
keep my job this offer holds good. 

TOM: I I (Breaks off) Thank you. (A pause; then 
smiling wryly) I guess it's safe enough to say, you'll see 
me at the end of the week. John you're (Breaking off 
again. A silence interrupted presently by the sound of 
much vigorous rapping on the outer door of the flat. Ra- 
chel appears and crosses over to the vestibule) . Hear the 
racket ! My kiddies gently begging for admittance. It's 
about twenty minutes of nine, isn't it? (Tom nods). I 
thought so. (Goes into the entryway; presently reap- 
pears with a group of six little girls ranging in age from 
five to about nine. All are fighting to be close to her; and 


all are talking at once. There is one exception: the smal- 
lest tot is self-possessed and self-sufficient. She carries 
a red geranium in her hand and gives it her full atten- 

LITTLE MARY : It's my turn to get "Morning kiss" first, this 
morning, Miss Rachel. You kissed Louise first yester- 
day. You said you'd kiss us "alphebettically." (Ending 
in a shriek) . You promised ! (Rachel kisses Mary, who 

LITTLE NANCY (Imperiously) : Now, me. (Rachel kisses 
her, and then amid shrieks, recriminations, pulling of hair f 
jostling, etc., she kisses the rest. The small tot is still 
oblivious to everything that is going on). 

RACHEL (Laughing) : You children will pull me limb from 
limb ; and then I'll be all dead ; and you'll be sorry see, 
if you aren't. (They fall back immediately. Tom and 
John watch in amused silence. Rachel loses all self-con- 
sciousness, and seems to bloom in the children's midst). 
Edith! come here this minute, and let me tie your hair- 
ribbon again. Nancy, I'm ashamed of you, I saw you 
trying to pull it off. (Nancy looks abashed but mis- 
chievous). Louise, you look as sweet as sweet, this morn- 
ing; and Jenny, where did you get the pretty, pretty 
dress ? 

LITTLE JENNY (Snuffling, but proud) : My mother made it. 
(Pauses with more snuffles). My mother says I have a 
very bad cold. (There is a brief silence interruped by 
the small tot with the geranium). 

LITTLE MARTHA (In a sweet, little voice) : I have a 
pitty 'ittle flower. 

RACHEL: Honey, it's beautiful. Don't you want "Morning 
kiss" too? 



RACHEL: Come, honey. (Rachel kisses her). Are you 
going to give the pretty flower to Jenny's teacher: 
(Vigorous shakings of the head in denial). Is it for 
mother? (More shakings of the head). Is it for let's 
see Daddy? (More shakings of the head). I give up. 
To whom are you going to give the pretty flower, honey? 

LITTLE MARTHA (Shyly) : "Oo." 

RACHEL: You, darling! 

LITTLE MARTHA : Muzzer and I picked it for "oo." Here 
't is. (Puts her finger in her mouth, and gives it shyly). 

RACHEL: Well, I'm going to pay you with three big kisses. 
One ! Two ! Three ! 

LITTLE MARTHA: I can count, One! Two! Free! Tan't I? 
I am going to school soon ; and I wants to put the flower 
in your hair. 

RACHEL (Kneels) : All right, baby. (Little Martha fum- 
bles and Rachel helps her). 

LITTLE MARTHA (Dreamily) : Miss Rachel, the 'ittle flower 
loves you. It told me so. It said it wanted to lie in your 
hair. It is going to tell you a pitty 'ittle secret. You 
listen awful hard and you'll hear. I wish I were a 
fairy and had a little wand, I'd turn everything into 
flowers. Wouldn't that be nice, Miss Rachel ? 

RACHEL : Lovely, honey ! 

LITTLE JENNY (Snuffling loudly) : If I were a fairy and had 
a wand, I'd turn you, Miss Rachel, into a queen and 
then I'd always be near you and see that you were happy. 

RACHEL : Honey, how beautiful ! 

LITTLE LOUISE: I'd make my mother happy if I were a 
fairy. She cries all the time. My father can't get any- 
thing to do. 

LITTLE NANCY: If I were a fairy, I'd turn a boy in my 
school into a spider. I hate him. 

RACHEL: Honey, why? 


LITTLE NANCY: I'll tell you sometime I hate him. 

LITTLE EDITH : Where's Jimmy, Miss Rachel ? 

RACHEL: He went long ago; and chickies, you'll have to 
clear out, all of you, now, or you'll be late. Shoo ! Shoo ! 
(She drives them out prettily before her. They laugh 
merrily. They all go into the vestibule). 

TOM (Slowly) : Does it ever strike you how pathetic and 
tragic a thing a little colored child is? 


TOM : Today, we colored men and women, everywhere 
are up against it. Every year, we are having a harder 
time of it. In the South, they make it as impossible as 
they can for us to get an education. We're hemmed in 
on all sides. Our one safeguard the ballot in most 
states, is taken away already, or is being taken away. 
Economically, in a few lines, we have a slight show 
but at what a cost ! In the North, they make a pretence 
of liberality : they give us the ballot and a good education, 
and then snuff us out. Each year, the problem just to 
live, gets more difficult to solve. How about these child- 
ren if we're fools enough to have any? (RACHEL re- 
enters. Her face is drawn and pale. She returns to the 

STRONG (Slowly, with emphasis) : That part is damnable ! 
(A silence.) 

TOM (Suddenly looking at the clock) : It's later than I 
thought. I'll have to be pulling out of here now, if you 
don't mind. (Raising his voice) Rachel! (Rachel still 
drawn and pale, appears in the doorway of the kitchen- 
ette. She is without her apron). I've got to go now, 
Sis. I leave John in your hands. 

STRONG : I've got to go, myself, in a few minutes. 

TOM: Nonsense, man! Sit still. I'll begin to think, in a 
minute, you're afraid of the ladies. 


STRONG: I am. 

TOM : What ! And not ashamed to acknowledge it? 


TOM: You're lots wiser than I dreamed. So long! (Gets 
hat out in the entry-way and returns; smiles wryly.) 
"Morituri Salutamus". (They nod at him Rachel wist- 
fully. He goes out. There is the sound of an opening 
and closing door. Rachel sits down. A rather uncom- 
fortable silence, on the part of Rachel, ensues. Strong 
is imperturbable.) 

RACHEL (Nervously): John! 

STRONG: Well? 

RACHEL: I I listened. 

STRONG: Listened! To what? 

RACHEL: To you and Tom. 

STRONG: Well, what of it? 

RACHEL : I didn't think it was quite fair not to tell you. It 
it seemed, well, like eavesdropping. 

STRONG : Don't worry about it. Nonsense ! 

RACHEL: I'm glad I want to thank you for what you did 
for Tom. He needs you, and will need you. You'll 
help him? 

STRONG: (Thoughtfully): Rachel, each one has his own 
little battles. I'll do what I can. After all, an outsider 
doesn't help much. 

RACHEL: But friendship just friendship helps. 

STRONG: Yes. (A silence). Rachel, do you hear anything 
encouraging from the schools? Any hope for you yet? 

RACHEL: No, nor ever will be. I know that now. There's 
no more chance for me than there is for Tom, or than 
there was for you or for any of us with dark skins. It's 
lucky for me that 1 love to keep house, and cook, and 
sew. I'll never get anything else. Ma dear's sewing, 
the little work Tom has been able to get, and the little 


sewing I sometimes get to do keep us from the poor- 
house. We live. According to your philosophy, I sup- 
pose, make the best of it it might be worse. 

STRONG (Quietly) : You don't want to get morbid over 
these things, you know. 

RACHEL (Scornfully) : That's it. If you see things as they 
are, you're either pessimistic or morbid. 

STRONG: In the long run, do you believe, that attitude of 
mind will be beneficial to you? I'm ten years older 
than you. I tried your way. I know. Mine is the only 
sane one. (Goes over to her slowly; deliberately puts 
his hands on her hair, and tips her head back. He looks 
down into her face quietly without saying anything). 

RACHEL (Nervous and startled) : Why, John, don't ! (He 
pays no attention, but continues to look down into her 

STRONG (Half to himself) : Perhaps if you had a little 
more fun in your life, your point of view would be 
more normal. I'll arrange it so I can take you to some 
theatre, one night, this week. 

RACHEL (Irritably) : You talk as though I were a a jelly- 
fish. You'll take me, how do you know /'// go? 

STRONG: You will. 

RACHEL (Sarcastically): Indeed! (STRONG makes no 
reply). I wonder if you know how how maddening 
you are. Why, you talk as though my will counts for 
nothing. It's as if you're trying to master me. I think 
a domineering man is detestable. 

STRONG (Softly) : If he's, perhaps, the man? 

RACHEL (Hurriedly, as though she had not heard) : Besides, 
some of these theatres put you off by yourself as though 
you had leprosy. I'm not going. 

STRONG (Smiling at her) : You know I wouldn't ask you 
to go, under those circumstances. (A silence). Well, I 


must be going now. (He takes her hand, and looks at 
it reverently. Rachel, at first resists; but he refuses to 
let go. When she finds it useless, she ceases to resist. 
He turns his head and smiles down into her face). 
Rachel, I am coming back to see you, this evening. 

RACHEL : I'm sure we'll all be very glad to see you. 

STRONG (Looking at her calmly) : I said you. (Very delib- 
erately, he turns her hand palm upwards, leans over and 
kisses it; then he puts it back into her lap. He touches her 
cheek lightly). Good-bye little Rachel. (Turns in the 
vestibule door and looks back, smiling). Until tonight. 
(He goes out. Rachel sits for some time without mov- 
ing. She is lost in a beautiful day-dream. Presently 
she sighs happily, and after looking furtively around the 
room, lifts the palm John has kissed to her lips. She 
laughs shyly and jumping up, begins to hum. She opens 
the window at the rear of the room and then commences 
to thread the sewing-machine. She hums happily the 
whole time. A light rapping is heard at the outer door. 
Rachel listens. It stops, and begins again. There is 
something insistent, and yet hopeless in the sound. 
Rachel looking puzzled, goes out into the vestibule. . . The 
door closes. Rachel, a black woman , poorly dressed, 
and a little ugly, black child come in. There is the stoni- 
ness of despair in the woman's face. The child is thin, 
nervous, suspicious, frightened). 

MRS. LANE (In a sharp, but toneless voice) : May I sit 
down? I'm tired. 

RACHEL (Puzzled, but gracious; draws up a chair for her) : 
Why, certainly. 

MRS. LANE: No, you don't know me never even heard of 
me nor I of you. I was looking at the vacant flat on 
this floor and saw your name on your door, "Lov- 


ing !" It's a strange name to come across in this world. 

I thought, perhaps, you might give me some infor- 
mation. (The child hides behind her mother and looks 

around at Rachel in a frightened way) . 
RACHEL (Smiling at the woman and child in a kindly 

manner) : I'll be glad to tell you anything, I am able 

MRS. LANE: Lane. What I want to know is, how do they 

treat the colored children in the school I noticed around 

the corner? (The child clutches at her mother's dress). 
RACHEL (Perplexed) : Very well I'm sure. 
MRS. LANE (Bluntly) : What reason have you for being 

RACHEL: Why, the little boy I've adopted goes there; and 

he's very happy. All the children in this apartment-house 

go there too; and I know they're happy. 
MRS. LANE: Do you know how many colored children there 

are in the school? 

RACHEL: Why, I should guess around thirty. 
MRS. LANE: I see. (Pauses). What color is this little 

adopted boy of yours? 
RACHEL (Gently) : Why he's brown. 
MRS. LANE: Any black children there? 
RACHEL (Nervously) : Why yes. 
MRS. LANE: Do you mind if I send Ethel over by the piano 

to sit? 
RACHEL: N no, certainly not. (Places a chair by the 

piano and goes to the little girl holding out her hand. 

She smiles beautifully. The child gets farther behind her 

mother) . 
MRS. LANE: She won't go to you she's afraid of everybody 

now but her father and me. Come Ethel. (Mrs. Lane 

takes the little girl by the hand and leads her to the chair. 

In a gentler voice) Sit down, Ethel. (Ethel obeys. 


When her mother starts back again toward Rachel, she 
holds out her hands pitifully. She makes no sound). 
I'm not going to leave you, Ethel. I'll be right over here. 
You can see me. (The look of agony on the child's face, 
as her mother leaves her, makes Rachel shudder). Do 
you mind if we sit over here by the sewing-machine? 
Thank you. (They move their chairs). 

RACHEL (Looking at the little, pitiful figure watching its 
mother almost unblinkingly) : Does Ethel like apples, Mrs. 

MRS. LANE: Yes. 

RACHEL: Do you mind if I give her one? 

MRS. LANE: No. Thank you, very much. 

RACHEL (Goes into the kitchenette and returns with a 
fringed napkin, a plate, and a big, red apple, cut into 
quarters. She goes to the little girl, who cowers away 
from her; very gently). Here, dear, little girl, is a 
beautiful apple for you. (The gentle tones have no ap- 
peal for the trembling child before her). 

MRS. LANE (Coming forward) : I'm sorry, but I'm afraid 
she won't take it from you. Ethel, the kind lady has given 
you an apple. Thank her nicely. Here! I'll spread the 
napkin for you, and put the plate in your lap. Thank the 
lady like a good little girl. 

ETHEL (Fery low) : Thank you. (They return to their 
seats. Ethel with difficulty holds the plate in her lap. 
During the rest of the interview between Rachel and her 
mother, she divides her attention between the apple on 
the plate and her mother's face. She makes no attempt 
to eat the apple, but holds the plate in her lap with a care 
that is painful to watch. Often, too, she looks over her 
shoulder fearfully. The conversation between Rachel 
and her mother is carried on in low tones). 

MRS. LANE: I've got to move it's Ethel. 


RACHEL: What is the matter with that child? It's it's 
heartbreaking to see her. 

MRS. LANE: I understand how you feel, I don't feel any- 
thing, myself, any more. (A pause). My husband and I 
are poor, and we're ugly and we're black. Ethel looks like 
her father more than she does like me. We live in 55th 
Street near the railroad. It's a poor neighborhood, but 
the rent's cheap. My husband is a porter in a store ; and, 
to help out, I'm a caretaker. (Pauses). I don't know 
why I'm telling you all this. We had a nice little home 
and the three of us were happy. Now we've got to move. 

RACHEL: Move I Why? 

MRS. LANE : It's Ethel. I put her in school this September. 
She stayed two weeks. (Pointing to Ethel) That's the 

RACHEL (In horror) : You mean that just two weeks in 
school did that? 

MRS. LANE: Yes. Ethel never had a sick day in her life 
before. (A brief pause). I took her to the doctor at 
the end of the two weeks. He says she's a nervous wreck. 

RACHEL: But what could they have done to her? 

MRS. LANE (Laughs grimly and mirthlessly) : I'll tell you 
what they did the first day. Ethel is naturally sensitive 
and backward. She's not assertive. The teacher saw 
that, and, after I had left, told her to sit in a seat in the 
rear of the class. She was alone there in a corner. 
The children, immediately feeling there was something 
wrong with Ethel because of the teacher's attitude, turned 
and stared at her. When the teacher's back was turned 
they whispered about her, pointed their fingers at her 
and tittered. The teacher divided the class into two parts, 
divisions, I believe, they are called. She forgot all about 
Ethel, of course, until the last minute, and then, looking 
back, said sharply: "That little girl there may join this 


division," meaning the group of pupils standing around 
her. Ethel naturally moved slowly. The teacher called 
her sulky and told her to lose a part of her recess. When 
Ethel came up the children drew away from her in every 
direction. She was left standing alone. The teacher then 
proceeded to give a lesson about kindness to animals. 
Funny, isn't it, kindness to animals? The children for- 
got Ethel in the excitement of talking about their pets. 
Presently, the teacher turned to Ethel and said disagree- 
ably: "Have you a pet?" Ethel said, "Yes," very low. 
"Come, speak up, you sulky child, what is it?" Ethel 
said: "A blind puppy." They all laughed, the teacher 
and all. Strange, isn't it, but Ethel loves that puppy. 
She spoke up : "It's mean to laugh at a little blind puppy. 
I'm glad he's blind." This remark brought forth more 
laughter. "Why are you glad," the teacher asked 
curiously. Ethel refused to say. (Pauses). When I 
asked her why, do you know what she told me? "If he 
saw me, he might not love me any more." (A pause). 
Did I tell you that Ethel is only seven years old? 

RACHEL (Drawing her breath sharply) : Oh ! I didn't believe 
any one could be as cruel as that to a little child. 

MRS. LANE: It isn't very pleasant, is it? When the teacher 
found out that Ethel wouldn't answer, she said severely: 
"Take your seat!" At recess, all the children went out. 
Ethel could hear them playing and laughing and shrieking. 
Even the teacher went too. She was made to sit there 
all alone in that big room because God made her ugly 
and black. (Pauses). When the recess was half over 
the teacher came back. "You may go now," she said 
coldly. Ethel didn't stir. "Did you hear me?" "Yes'm." 
"Why don't you obey?" "I don't want to go out, please." 
"You don't, don't you, you stubborn child! Go im- 
mediately !" Ethel went. She stood by the school steps. 


No one spoke to her. The children near her moved away 
in every direction. They stopped playing, many of them, 
and watched her. They stared as only children can stare. 
Some began whispering about her. Presently one child 
came up and ran her hand roughly over Ethel's face. She 
looked at her hand and Ethel's face and ran screaming 
back to the others, "It won't come off! See!" Other 
children followed the first child's example. Then one 
boy spoke up loudly: "I know what she is, she's a nig- 
ger!" Many took up the cry. God or the devil inter- 
fered the bell rang. The children filed in. One boy 
boldly called her "Nigger !" before the teacher. She said, 
"That isn't nice," but she smiled at the boy. Things 
went on about the same for the rest of the day. At the 
end of school, Ethel put on her hat and coat the teacher 
made her hang them at a distance from the other pupils' 
wraps ; and started for home. Quite a crowd escorted 
her. They called her "Nigger!" all the way. I made 
Ethel go the next day. I complained to the authorities. 
They treated me lightly. I was determined not to let 
them force my child out of school. At the end of two 
weeks I had to take her out. 

RACHEL (Brokenly) : Why, I never in all my life 
heard anything so pitiful. 

MRS. LANE: Did you ever go to school here? 

RACHEL: Yes. I was made to feel my color but I never 
had an experience like that. 

MRS. LANE: How many years ago were you in the graded 
schools ? 

RACHEL: Oh! around ten. 

MRS. LANE (Laughs grimly) : Ten years ! Every year 
things are getting worse. Last year wasn't as bad as this. 
(Pauses.) So they treat the children all right in this 
school ? 


RACHEL: Yes! Yes! I know that. 

MRS. LANE: I can't afford to take this flat here, but I'll 
take it. I'm going to have Ethel educated. Although, 
when you think of it, it's all rather useless this educa- 
tion! What are our children going to do with it, when 
they get it? We strive and save and sacrifice to educate 
them and the whole time down underneath, we know 
they'll have no chance. 

RACHEL (Sadly) : Yes, that's true, all right. God seems 
to have forgotten us. 

MRS. LANE: God! It's all a lie about God. I know. This 
fall I sent Ethel to a white Sunday-school near us. She 
received the same treatment there she did in the day 
school. Her being there, nearly broke up the school. 
At the end, the superintendent called her to him and asked 
her if she didn't know of some nice colored Sunday- 
school. He told her she must feel out of place, and 
uncomfortable there. That's your Church of God! 

RACHEL: Oh! how unspeakably brutal. (Controls herself 
with an effort; after a pause) Have you any other 
children ? 

MRS. LANE (Dryly) : Hardly! If I had another I'd kill 
it. It's kinder. (Rising presently) Well, I must go, 
now. Thank you, for your information and for 
listening. (Suddenly) You aren't married, are you? 


MRS. LANE: Don't marry that's my advice. Come,Ethel. 
(Ethel gets up and puts down the things in her lap, 
carefully upon her chair. She goes in a hurried, timid 
way to her mother and clutches her hand). Say good-bye 
to the lady. 

ETHEL (Faintly} : Good-bye. 

RACHEL (Kneeling by the little girl a beautiful smile on 
her face) Dear little girl, won't you let me kiss you 


good-bye? I love little girls. (The child hides behind 
her mother; continuing brokenly) Oh! no child ever 
did that to me before! 

MRS. LANE (In a gentler voice) : Perhaps, when we move in 
here, the first of the month, things may be better. Thank 
you, again. Good-morning ! You don't belie your name. 
(All three go into the vestibule. The outside door opens 
and closes. Rachel as though dazed and stricken returns. 
She sits in a chair, leans forward, and clasping her hands 
loosely between her knees, stares at the chair with the 
apple on it where Ethel Lane has sat. She does not move 
for some time. Then she gets up and goes to the window 
in the rear center and sits there. She breathes in the air 
deeply and then goes to the sewing-machine and begins 
to sew on something she is making. Presently her feet 
slow down on the pedals; she stops; and begins brooding 
again. After a short pause, she gets up and begins to 
pace up and down slowly, mechanically, her head bent 
forward. The sharp ringing of the electric bell breaks 
in upon this. Rachel starts and goes slowly into the 
vestibule. She is heard speaking dully through the tube). 

RACHEL: Yes! All right! Bring it up! (Presently she 
returns with a long flower box. She opens it listlessly 
at the table. Within are six, beautiful crimson rosebuds 
with long stems. Rachel looks at the name on the card. 
She sinks down slowly on her knees and leans her head 
against the table. She sighs wearily) Oh! John! 
John ! What are we to do ? I'm I'm afraid ! Every- 
where it is the same thing. My mother! My little 
brother! Little, black, crushed Ethel! (In a whisper) 
Oh ! God ! You who I have been taught to believe are so 
good, so beautiful how could You permit these 
things? (Pauses, raises her head and sees the rosebuds. 
Her face softens and grows beautiful, very sweetly). 


Dear little rosebuds you make me think of sleeping, 
curled up, happy babies. Dear beautiful, little rosebuds ! 
(Pauses; goes on thoughtfully to the rosebuds) When I 
look at you I believe God is beautiful. He who can 
make a little exquisite thing like this, and this can't be 
cruel. Oh ! He can't mean me to give up love and 
the hope of little children. (There is the sound of a 
small hand knocking at the outer door. Rachel smiles). 
My Jimmy! It must be twelve o'clock. (Rises). I 
didn't dream it was so late. (Starts for the vestibule). 
Oh! the world can't be so bad. I don't believe it. I 
won't. I must forget that little girl. My little Jimmy is 
happy and today John sent me beautiful rosebuds. Oh, 
there are lovely things, yet. (Goes into the vestibule. A 
child's eager cry is heard; and Rachel carrying Jimmy in 
her arms comes in. He has both arms about her neck 
and is hugging her. With him in her arms, she sits down 
in the armchair at the right front). 

RACHEL: Well, honey, how was school today? 

JIMMY (Sobering a trifle) : All right, Ma Rachel. (Sud- 
denly sees the roses) Oh ! look at the pretty flowers. Why, 
Ma Rachel, you forgot to put them in water. They'll die. 

RACHEL: Well, so they will. Hop down this minute, and 
I'll put them in right away. (Gathers up box and flowers 
and goes into the kitchenette. Jimmy climbs back into 
the chair. He looks thoughtful and serious. Rachel 
comes back with the buds in a tall, glass vase. She puts 
the fern on top of the piano, and places the vase in the 
centre of the table). There, honey, that's better, isn't it? 
Aren't they lovely? 

JIMMY: Yes, that's lots better. Now they won't die, will 
they? Rosebuds are just like little "chilyun," aren't they, 
Ma Rachel? If you are good to them, they'll grow up 
into lovely roses, won't they? And if you hurt them, 


they'll die. Ma Rachel do you think all peoples are kind 
to little rosebuds? 

RACHEL (Watching Jimmy shortly) : Why, of course. Who 
could hurt little children? Who would have the heart to 
do such a thing? 

JIMMY: If you hurt them, it would be lots kinder, wouldn't 
it, to kill them all at once, and not a little bit and a little 

RACHEL (Sharply) : Why, honey boy, why are you talking 
like this? 

JIMMY: Ma Rachel, what is a "Nigger"? 

(Rachel recoils as though she had been struck). 

RACHEL: Honey boy, why why do you ask that? 

JIMMY: Some big boys called me that when I came out of 
school just now. They said: "Look at the little nigger!" 
And they laughed. One of them runned, no ranned, 
after me and threw stones; and they all kept calling 
"Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!" One stone struck me hard 
in the back, and it hurt awful bad; but I didn't cry, Ma 
Rachel. I wouldn't let them make me cry. The stone 
hurts me there, Ma Rachel ; but what they called me hurts 
and hurts here. W T hat is a "Nigger," Ma Rachel? 

RACHEL (Controlling herself with a tremendous effort. At 
last she sweeps down upon him and hugs and kisses him) : 
Why, honey boy, those boys didn't mean anything. Silly, 
little, honey boy ! They're rough, that's all. How could 
they mean anything? 

JIMMY: You're only saying that, Ma Rachel, so I won't be 
hurt. I know. It wouldn't ache here like it does if 
they didn't mean something. 

RACHEL (Abruptly) : Where's Mary, honey? 

JIMMY: She's in her flat. She came in just after I did. 

RACHEL : Well, honey, I'm going to give you two big cookies 
and two to take to Mary ; and you may stay in there and 


play with her, till I get your lunch ready. Won't that be 

JIMMY (Brightening a little) : Why, you never give me but 
one at a time. You'll give me two? One? Two? (Rachel 
gets the cookies and brings them to him. Jimmy climbs 
down from the chair). Shoo ! now, little honey boy. See 
how many laughs you can make for me, before I come 
after you. Hear? Have a good time, now. (Jimmy 
starts for the door quickly; but he begins to slow down. 
His face gets long and serious again. Rachel watches 

RACHEL (Jumping at him) : Shoo ! Shoo ! Get out of here 
quickly, little chicken. (She follows him out. The outer 
door opens and shuts. Presently she returns. She looks 
old and worn and grey; calmly. Pauses). First, it's lit- 
tle, black Ethel and then's it's Jimmy. Tomorrow, it 
will be some other little child. The blight sooner or 
later strikes all. My little Jimmy, only seven years old 
poisoned! (Through the open window comes the laugh- 
ter of little children at play. Rachel, shuddering, covers 
her ears). And once I said, centuries ago, it must have 
been: "How can life be so terrible, when there are little 
children in the world?" Terrible! Terrible! (In a whis- 
per, slowly) That's the reason it is so terrible. (The 
laughter reaches her again; this time she listens). And, 
suddenly, some day, from out of the black, the blight 
shall descend, and shall still forever the laughter on 
those little lips, and in those little hearts. (Pauses 
thoughtfully). And the loveliest thing almost, that ever 
happened to me, that beautiful voice, in my dream, those 
beautiful words: "Rachel, you are to be the mother to 
little children. (Pauses, then slowly and with dawning 
surprise). Why, God, you were making a mock of me; 
you were laughing at me. I didn't belive God could laugh 


at our sufferings, but He can. We are accursed, ac- 
cursed! We have nothing, absolutely nothing. (Strong's 
rosebuds attract her attention. She goes over to them, 
puts her hand out as if to touch them, and then shakes 
her head, very sweetly) No, little rosebuds, I may not 
touch you. Dear, little, baby rosebuds, I am accursed. 
(Gradually her whole form stiffens, she breathes deeply; 
at last slowly). You God! You terrible, laughing God I 
Listen! I swear and may my soul be damned to all 
eternity, if I do break this oath I swear that no child 
of mine shall ever lie upon my breast, for I will not have 
it rise up, in the terrible days that are to be and call me 
cursed. (A pause, very wistfully; questioningly) . 
Never to know the loveliest thing in all the world the 
feel of a little head, the touch of little hands, the beauti- 
ful utter dependence of a little child? (With sudden 
frenzy) You can laugh, Oh God! Well, so can I. (Bursts 
into terrible, racking laughter) But I can be kinder than 
You. (Fiercely she snatches the rosebuds from the vase, 
grasps them roughly, tears each head from the stem, and 
grinds it under her feet. The vase goes over with a 
crash; the water drips unheeded over the table-cloth and 
floor). If I kill, You Mighty God, I kill at once I do 
not torture. (Falls face downward on the floor. The 
laughter of the children shrills loudly through the win- 



TIME: Seven o'clock in the evening, one week later. 

PLACE: The same room. There is a coal fire in the grate. 
The curtains are drawn. A lighted oil lamp with a 
dark green porcelain shade is in the center of the table. 
Mrs. Loving and Tom are sitting by the table, Mrs. 
Loving sewing, Tom reading. There is the sound of 
much laughter and the shrill screaming of a child from 
the bedrooms. Presently Jimmy clad in a flannelet 
sleeping suit, covering all of him but his head and hands, 
chases a pillow, which has come flying through the 
doorway at the rear. He struggles with it, finally gets 
it in his arms, and rushes as fast as he can through the 
doorway again. Rachel jumps at him with a cry. He 
drops the pillow and shrieks. There is a tussle for pos- 
session of it, and they disappear. The noise grows 
louder and merrier. Tom puts down his paper and 
grins. He looks at his mother. 

TOM: Well, who's the giddy one in this family now? 

MRS. LOVING (Shaking her head in a troubled manner) : I 
don't like it. It worries me. Rachel (Breaks off). 

TOM : Have you found out, yet 

MRS. LOVING (Turning and looking toward the rear door- 
way, quickly interrupting him) : Sh! (Rachel, laughing, 
her hair tumbling over her shoulders, comes rushing into 
the room. Jimmy is in close pursuit. He tries to catch 
her, but she dodges him. They are both breathless). 



MRS. LOVING (Deprecatingly) : Really, Rachel, Jimmy will 
be so excited he won't be able to sleep. It's after his 
bedtime, now. Don't you think you had better stop? 

RACHEL: All right, Ma dear. Come on, Jimmy; let's play 
"Old Folks" and sit by the fire. (She begins to push the 
big armchair over to the fire. Tom jumps up, moves her 
aside, and pushes it himself. Jimmy renders assistance.] 

TOM : Thanks, Big Fellow, you are "sure some" strong. I'll 
remember you when these people around here come 
for me to move pianos and such things around. Shake ! 
(They shake hands). 

JIMMY (Proudly) : I am awful strong, am I not? 

TOM : You "sure" are a Hercules. (Hurriedly, as Jimmy's 
mouth and eyes open wide). And see here! don't ask me 
tonight who that was. I'll tell you the first thing tomor- 
row morning. Hear? (Returns to his chair and paper). 

RACHEL (Sitting down) : Come on, honey boy, and sit in my 

JIMMY (Doubtfully) : I thought we were going to play "Old 

RACHEL : We are. 

JIMMY: Do old folks sit in each other's laps? 

RACHEL: Old folks do anything. Come on. 

JIMMY (Hesitatingly climbs into her lap, but presently snug- 
gles down and sighs audibly from sheer content; Rachel 
starts to bind up her hair) : Ma Rachel, don't please ! I 
like your hair like that. You're you're pretty. I like 
to feel of it; and it smells like like oh! like a barn. 

RACHEL: My! how complimentary! I like that. Like a 
barn, indeed! 

JIMMY: What's "complimentry" ? 

RACHEL: Oh! saying nice things about me. (Pinching his 
cheek and laughing) That my hair is like a barn, for in- 


JIMMY (Stoutly) : Well, that is "complimentary." It smells 
like hay like the hay in the barn you took me to, one day, 
last summer. 'Member? 

RACHEL : Yes honey. 

JIMMY (After a brief pause) : Ma Rachel ! 

RACHEL: Well? 

JIMMY: Tell me a story, please. It's "story-time," now, 
isn't it ? 

RACHEL: Well, let's see. (They both look into the fire for 
a space; beginning softly) Once upon a time, there were 
two, dear, little boys, and they were all alone in the world. 
They lived with a cruel, old man and woman, who made 
them work hard, very hard all day, and beat them when 
they did not move fast enough, and always, every night, 
before they went to bed. They slept in an attic on a 
rickety, narrow bed, that went screech! screech! when- 
ever they moved. And, in summer, they nearly died with 
the heat up there, and in winter, with the cold. One win- 
try night, when they were both weeping very bitterly after 
a particularly hard beating, they suddenly heard a 
pleasant voice saying: "Why are you crying, little boys?" 
They looked up, and there, in the moonlight, by their bed, 
was the dearest, little old lady. She was dressed all in 
gray, from the peak of her little pointed hat to her little, 
buckled shoes. She held a black cane much taller than 
her little self. Her hair fell about her ears in tiny, grey 
corkscrew curls, and they bobbed about as she moved. 
Her eyes were black and bright as bright as well, as 
that lovely, white light there. No, there! And her 
cheeks were as red as the apple I gave you yesterday. Do 
you remember? 

JIMMY (Dreamily) : Yes. 

RACHEL: "Why are you crying, little boys?" she asked again, 
in a lovely, low, little voice. "Because we are tired and 


sore and hungry and cold; and we are all alone in the 
world; and we don't know how to laugh any more. We 
should so like to laugh again." "Why, that's easy," 
she said, "it's just like this." And she laughed a little, 
joyous, musical laugh. "Try!" she commanded. They 
tried, but their laughing boxes were very rusty, and they 
made horrid sounds. "Well," she said, "I advise you to 
pack up, and go away, as soon as you can, to the Land 
of Laughter. You'll soon learn there, I can tell you." 
"Is there such a land?" they asked doubtfully. "To be 
sure there is," she answered the least bit sharply. "We 
never heard of it," they said. "Well, I'm sure there must 
be plenty of things you never heard about," she said just 
the "leastest" bit more sharply. "In a moment you'll be 
telling me flowers don't talk together, and the birds." 
"We never heard of such a thing," they said in surprise, 
their eyes like saucers. "There!" she said, bobbing her 
little curls. "What did I tell you? You have much to 
learn." "How do you get to the Land of Laughter?" 
they asked. "You go out of the eastern gate of the town, 
just as the sun is rising; and you take the highway there, 
and follow it; and if you go with it long enough, it will 
bring you to the very gates of the Land of Laughter. It's 
a long, long way from here; and it will take you many 
days." The words had scarcely left her mouth, when, lo ! 
the little lady disappeared, and where she had stood was 
the white square of moonlight nothing else. And with- 
out more ado these two little boys put their arms around 
each other and fell fast asleep. And in the grey, just 
before daybreak, they awoke and dressed ; and, putting on 
their ragged caps and mittens, for it was a wintry day, 
they stole out of the house and made for the eastern gate. 
And just as they reached it, and passed through, the 
whole east leapt into fire. All day they walked, and many 


days thereafter, and kindly people, by the way, took them 
in and gave them food and drink and sometimes a bed at 
night. Often they slept by the roadside, but they didn't 
mind that for the climate was delightful not too hot, and 
not too cold. They soon threw away their ragged little 
mittens. They walked for many days, and there was no 
Land of Laughter. Once they met an old man, richly 
dressed, with shining jewels on his fingers, and he stopped 
them and asked: "Where are you going so fast, little 
boys?" "We are going to the Land of Laughter," they 
said together gravely. "That," said the old man, "is a 
very foolish thing to do. Come with me, and I will take 
you to the Land of Riches. I will cover you with gar- 
ments of beauty, and give you jewels and a castle to live 
in and servants and horses and many things besides." 
And they said to him: "No, we wish to learn how to 
laugh again; we have forgotten how, and we are going 
to the Land of Laughter." "You will regret not going 
with me. See, if you don't," he said; and he left them 
in quite a huff. And they walked again, many days, and 
again they met an old man. He was tall and imposing- 
looking and very dignified. And he said: "Where are 
you going so fast, little boys ?" "We are going to the 
Land of Laughter," they said together very seriously. 
"What!" he said, "that is an extremely foolish thing to 
do. Come with me, and I will give you power. I will 
make you great men: generals, kings, emperors, What- 
ever you desire to accomplish will be permitted you." 
And they smiled politely: "Thank you very much, but 
we have forgotten how to laugh, and we are going there 
to learn how." He looked upon them haughtily, without 
speaking, and disappeared. And they walked and walked 
more days ; and they met another old man. And he was 
clad in rags, and his face was thin, and his eyes were 


unhappy. And he whispered to them: "Where are you 
going so fast, little boys?" "We are going to the Land 
of Laughter," they answered, without a smile. "Laugh- 
ter! Laughter! that is useless. Come with me and I will 
show you the beauty of life through sacrifice, suffering 
for others. That is the only life. I come from the Land 
of Sacrifice." And they thanked him kindly, but said: 
"We have suffered long enough. We have forgotten how 
to laugh. We would learn again." And they went on; 
and he looked after them very wistfully. They walked 
more days, and at last they came to the Land of Laughter. 
And how do you suppose they knew this? Because they 
could hear, over the wall, the sound of joyous laughter, 
the laughter of men, women, and children. And one sat 
guarding the gate, and they went to her. "We have come 
a long, long distance; and we would enter the Land of 
Laughter." "Let me see you smile, first/' she said gently. 
"I sit at the gate ; and no one who does not know how to 
smile may enter the Land of Laughter." And they tried 
to smile, but could not. "Go away and practice," she said 
kindly, "and come back tomorrow." And they went 
away, and practiced all night how to smile; and in the 
morning they returned, and the gentle lady at the gate 
said: "Dear little boys, have you learned how to smile?" 
And they said: "We have tried. How is this?" "Bet- 
ter," she said, "much better. Practice some more, and 
come back tomorrow." And they went away obediently 
and practiced. And they came the third day. And she 
said: "Now try again." And tears of delight came into 
her lovely eyes. "Those were very beautiful smiles," she 
said. "Now, you may enter." And she unlocked the gate, 
and kissed them both, and they entered the Land the 
beautiful Land of Laughter. Never had they seen such 
blue skies, such green trees and grass; never had they 


heard such birds songs. And people, men, women and 
children, laughing softly, came to meet them, and took 
them in, and made them as home; and soon, very soon, 
they learned to sleep. And they grew up here, and mar- 
ried, and had laughing, happy children. And sometimes 
they thought of the Land of Riches, and said : "Ah ! well !" 
and sometimes of the Land of Power, and sighed a little ; 
and sometimes of the Land of Sacrifice and their eyes 
were wistful. But they soon forgot, and laughed again. 
And they grew old, laughing. And then when they died 
a laugh was on their lips. Thus are things in the beau- 
tiful Land of Laughter. (There is a long pause). 

JIMMY: I like that story, Ma Rachel. It's nice to laugh, 
isn't is? Is there such a land? 

RACHEL (Softly) : What do you think, honey? 

JIMMY : I thinks it would be awful nice if there was. Don't 

RACHEL (Wistfully) : If there only were! If there only 

JIMMY: Ma Rachel. 

RACHEL: Well? 

JIMMY: It makes you think kind of doesn't it of sun- 
shine medicine? 

RACHEL: Yes, honey, but it isn't medicine there. It's al- 
ways there just like well like our air here. It's al- 
ways sunshine there. 

JIMMY: Always sunshine? Never any dark? 

RACHEL : No, honey. 

JIMMY: You'd never be afraid there, then, would you? 
Never afraid of nothing? 

RACHEL: No, honey. 

JIMMY (With a big sigh) : Oh! Oh ! I wisht it was here 
not there. (Puts his hand up to Rachel's face; suddenly 


sits up and looks at her). Why, Ma Rachel dear, you're 
crying. Your face is all wet. Why ! Don't cry ! Don't 

RACHEL (Gently) : Do you remember that I told you the lady 
at the gate had tears of joy in her eyes, when the two, 
dear, little boys smiled that beautiful smile? 

JIMMY: Yes. 

RACHEL: Well, these are tears of joy, honey, that's all 
tears of joy. 

JIMMY: It must be awful queer to have tears of joy, 'cause 
you're happy. I never did. (With a sigh). But, if you 
say they are, dear Ma Rachel, they must be. You knows 
everything, don't you? 

RACHEL (Sadly) : Some things, honey, some things. (A 
silence) . 

JIMMY (Sighing happily) : This is the beautiful-est night I 
ever knew. If you would do just one more thing, it 
would be lots more beautiful. Will you, Ma Rachel? 

RACHEL: Well, what, honey? 

JIMMY: Will you sing at the piano, I mean, it's lots pret- 
tier that way the little song you used to rock me to sleep 
by? You know, the one about the "Slumber Boat"? 

RACHEL: Oh! honey, not tonight. You're too tired. It's 
bedtime now. 

JIMMY (Patting her face with his little hand; wheedlingly) : 
Please! Ma Rachel, please! pretty please! 

RACHEL: Well, honey boy, this once, then. Tonight, you 
shall have the little song I used to sing you to sleep by 
(half to herself) perhaps, for the last time. 

JIMMY: Why, Ma Rachel, why the last time? 

RACHEL (Shaking her head sadly, goes to the piano; in a 
whisper) : The last time. (She twists up her hair into a 
knot at the back of her head and looks at the keys for a 
few moments; then she plays the accompaniment of the 


"Slumber Boat" through softly, and, after a moment, 
sings. Her voice is full of pent-up longing, and heart- 
break, and hopelessness. She ends in a little sob, but 
attempts to cover it by singing, lightly and daintily, the 
chorus of "The Owl and the Moon/' . . Then softly and 
with infinite tenderness, almost against her will, she plays 
and sings again the refrain of the "Slumber Boat") : 

"Sail, baby, sail 

Out from that sea, 

Only don't forget to sail 

Back again to me." 

(Presently she rises and goes to Jimmy, who is lolling 
back happily in the big chair. During the singing, Tom 
and Mrs. Loving apparently do not listen; when she sobs, 
however, Tom's hand on his paper tightens; Mrs. Lov- 
ing' s needle poises for a moment in mid-air. Neither looks 
at Rachel. Jimmy evidently has not noticed the sob). 

RACHEL (Kneeling by Jimmy) : Well, honey, how did you 
like it? 

JIMMY (Proceeding to pull down her hair from the twist) : 
It was lovely, Ma Rachel. (Yawns audibly). Now, Ma 
Rachel, I'm just beautifully sleepy. (Dreamily) I think 
that p'r'aps I'll go to the Land of Laughter tonight in my 
dreams. I'll go in the "Slumber Boat" and come back in 
the morning and tell you all about it. Shall I ? 

RACHEL: Yes, honey. (Whispers) 

"Only don't forget to sail 
Back again to me." 

TOM (Suddenly): Rachel! (Rachel starts slightly). I 
nearly forgot. John is coming here tonight to see how 
you are. He told me to tell you so. 


RACHEL (Stiffens perceptibly, then in different tones) : Very 
well. Thank you. (Suddenly with a little cry she puts 
her arms around Jimmy) Jimmy ! honey ! don't go tonight. 
Don't go without Ma Rachel. Wait for me, honey. I do 
so wish to go, too, to the Land of Laughter. Think of it, 
Jimmy ; nothing but birds always singing, and flowers al- 
ways blooming, and skies always blue and people, all of 
them, always laughing, laughing. You'll wait for Ma 
Rachel, won't you, honey? 

JIMMY: Is there really and truly, Ma Rachel, a Land of 
Laughter ? 

RACHEL: Oh! Jimmy, let's hope so; let's pray so. 

JIMMY (Frowns) : I've been thinking (Pauses). You 
have to smile at the gate, don't you, to get in? 

RACHEL: Yes, honey. 

JIMMY: Well, I guess I couldn't smile if my Ma Rachel 
wasn't somewhere close to me. So I couldn't get in after 
all, could I ? Tonight, I'll go somewhere else, and tell you 
all about it. And then, some day, we'll go together, won't 

RACHEL (Sadly) : Yes, honey, some day some day. (A 
short silence). Well, this isn't going to "sleepy-sleep," is 
it? Go, now, and say good-night to Ma Loving and Uncle 

JIMMY (Gets down obediently, and goes first to Mrs. Lov- 
ing. She leans over, and he puts his little arms around 
her neck. They kiss; very sweetly) : Sweet dreams ! God 
keep you all the night ! 

MRS. LOVING: The sweetest of sweet dreams to you, dear 
little boy! Good-night! (Rachel watches, unwatched, 
the scene. Her eyes are full of yearning). 

JIMMY (Going to Tom, who makes believe he does not see 
him) : Uncle Tom ! 


TOM (Jumps as though tremendously startled; Jimmy 
laughs) : My ! how you frightened me. You'll put my 
gizzard out of commission, if you do that often. Well, 
sir, what can I do for you? 

JIMMY: I came to say good-night. 

TOM (Gathering Jimmy up in his arms and kissing him; 
gently and with emotion) Good-night, dear little Big Fel- 
low ! Good-night ! 

JIMMY : Sweet dreams ! God keep you all the night ! (Goes 
sedately to Rachel, and holds out his little hand). I'm 
ready, Ma Rachel. (Yawns) I'm so nice and sleepy. 

RACHEL (With Jimmy's hand in hers, she hesitates a mo- 
ment, and then approaches Tom slowly. For a short 
time she stands looking down at him; suddenly leaning 
over him) : Why, Tom, what a pretty tie! Is it new? 

TOM: Well, no, not exactly. I've had it about a month. 
It is rather a beauty, isn't it? 

RACHEL : Why, I never remember seeing it. 

TOM (Laughing) : I guess not. I saw to that. 

RACHEL: Stingy! 

TOM : Well, I am where my ties are concerned. I've had 

RACHEL (Tentatively): Tom! 

TOM: Well? 

RACHEL (Nervously and wistfully) : Are you will you I 
mean, won't you be home this evening? 

TOM: You've got a long memory, Sis. I've that engage- 
ment, you know. Why? 

RACHEL (Slowly) : I forgot ; so you have. 

TOM: Why? 

RACHEL (Hastily) : Oh ! nothing nothing. Come on, 
Jimmy boy, you can hardly keep those little peepers open, 
can you? Come on, honey. (Rachel and Jimmy go out 
the rear doorway. There is a silence). 


MRS. LOVING (Slowly, as though thinking aloud) : I try to 
make out what could have happened; but it's no use I 
can't. Those four days, she lay in bed hardly moving, 
scarcely speaking. Only her eyes seemed alive. I never 
saw such a wide, tragic look in my life. It was as though 
her soul had been mortally wounded. But how? how? 
What could have happened? 

TOM (Quietly) : I don't know. She generally tells me 
everything; but she avoids me now. If we are alone in 
a room she gets out. I don't know what it means. 

MRS. LOVING: She will hardly let Jimmy out of her sight. 
While he's at school, she's nervous and excited. She 
seems always to be listening, but for what? When he 
returns, she nearly devours him. And she always asks 
him in a frightened sort of way, her face as pale and tense 
as can be: "Well, honey boy, how was school today?" 
And he always answers, "Fine, Ma Rachel, fine ! I 
learned " ; and then he goes on to tell her everything that 
has happened. And when he has finished, she says in an 
uneasy sort of way: "Is is that all?" And when he 
says "Yes," she relaxes and becomes limp. After a little 
while she becomes feverishly happy. She plays with 
Jimmy and the children more than ever she did and she 
played a good deal, as you know. They're here, or she's 
with them. Yesterday, I said in remonstrance, when she 
came in, her face pale and haggard and black hollows un- 
der her eyes : "Rachel, remember you're just out of a sick- 
bed. You're not well enough to go on like this." "I 
know," was all she would say, "but I've got to. I can't 
help myself. This part of their little lives must be happy 
it just must be." (Pauses). The last couple of nights, 
Jimmy has awakened and cried most pitfully. She 
wouldn't let me go to him ; said I had enough trouble, and 
she could quiet him. She never will let me know why he 


cries; but she stays with him, and soothes him until, at 
last, he falls asleep again. Every time she has come out 
like a rag ; and her face is like a dead woman's. Strange 
isn't it, this is the first time we have ever been able to talk 
it over? Tom, what could have happened? 

TOM : I don't know, Ma, but I feel, as you do ; something 
terrible and sudden has hurt her soul; and, poor little 
thing, she's trying bravely to readjust herself to life again. 
(Pauses, looks at his watch and then rises, and goes to 
her. He pats her back awkwardly). Well, Ma, I'm go- 
ing now. Don't worry too much. Youth, you, know, 
gets over things finally. It takes them hard, that's all . 
At least, that's what the older heads tell us. (Gets his hat 
and stands in the vestibule doorway). Ma, you know, I 
begin with John tomorrow. (With emotion) I don't be- 
lieve we'll ever forget John. Good-night! (Exit. Mrs. 
Loving continues to sew. Rachel, her hair arranged, re- 
enters through the rear doorway. She is humming). 

RACHEL: He's sleeping like a top. Aren't little children, 
Ma dear, the sweetest things, when they're all helpless 
and asleep ? One little hand is under his cheek ; and he's 
smiling. (Stops suddenly, biting her lips. A pause) 
Where's Tom? 

MRS. LOVING : He went out a few minutes ago. 

RACHEL (Sitting in Tom's chair and picking up his paper. 
She is exceedingly nervous. She looks the paper over 
rapidly; presently trying to make her tone casual) : Ma, 
you you aren't going anywhere tonight, are you? 

MRS. LOVING: I've got to go out for a short time about half- 
past eight. Mrs. Jordan, you know. I'll not be gone 
very long, though. Why? 

RACHEL: Oh! nothing particular. I just thought it would 
be cosy if we could sit here together the rest of the even- 
ing. Can't you can't you go tomorrow? 


MRS. LOVING: Why, I don't see how I can. I've made the 
engagement. It's about a new reception gown ; and she's 
exceedingly exacting, as you know. I can't afford to lose 

RACHEL: No, I suppose not. All right, Ma dear. (Present- 
ly, paper in hand, she laughs, but not quite naturally). 
Look! Ma dear! How is that for fashion, anyway? Isn't 
it the "limit"? (Rises and shows her mother a pic- 
ture in the paper. As she is in the act, the bell rings. 
With a startled cry). Oh! (Drops the paper, and grips 
her mother's hand). 

MRS. LOVING (Anxiously) .-Rachel, your nerves are right on 
edge; and your hand feels like fire. I'll have to see a 
doctor about you; and that's all there is to it. 

RACHEL (Laughing nervously, and moving toward the vesti- 
bule). Nonsense, Ma dear! Just because I let out a 
whoop now and then, and have nice warm hands? (Goes 
out, is heard talking through the tube) Yes! (Her voice 
emitting tremendous relief). Oh! bring it right up! 
(Appearing in the doorway) Ma dear, did you buy any- 
thing at Goddard's today ? 

MRS. LOVING : Yes ; and I've been wondering why they were 
so late in delivering it. I bought it early this morning. 
(Rachel goes out again. A door opens and shuts. She 
reappears with a bundle). 

MRS. LOVING: Put it on my bed, Rachel, please. (Exit 
Rachel rear doorway; presently returns empty- 
handed; sits down again at the table with the paper be- 
tween herself and mother; sinks in a deep revery. Sud- 
denly there is the sound of many loud knocks made by 
numerous small fists. Rachel drops the paper, and comes 
to a sitting posture, tense again. Her mother looks at 
her t but says nothing. Almost immediately Rachel re- 


RACHEL: My kiddies! They're late, this evening. (Goes 
out into the vestibule. A door opens and shuts. There 
is the shrill, excited sound of childish voices. Rachel 
comes in surrounded by the children r all trying to say 
something to her at once. Rachel puts her finger on her 
lip and points toward the doorway in the rear. They all 
quiet down. She sits on the floor in the front of the 
stage, and the children all cluster around her. Their con- 
versation takes place in a half-whisper. As they enter 
they nod brightly at Mrs. Loving, who smiles in return). 
Why so late, kiddies? It's long past "sleepy-time." 

LITTLE NANCY : We've been playing "Hide and Seek," and 
having the mostest fun. We promised, all of us, that if 
we could play until half -past seven tonight we wouldn't 
make any fuss about going to bed at seven o'clock the rest 
of the week. It's awful hard to go. I hate to go to bed ! 

LITTLE MARY, LOUISE and EDITH : So do I ! So do I ! So 
do I! 

LITTLE MARTHA: I don't. I love bed. My bed, after my 
muzzer tucks me all in, is like a nice warm bag. I just 
stick my nose out. When I lifts my head up I can see the 
light from the dining-room come in the door. I can hear 
my muzzer and fazzer talking nice and low; and then, 
before I know it, I'm fast asleep, and I dream pretty 
things, and in about a minute it's morning again. I love 
my little bed, and I love to dream. 

LITTLE MARY (Aggressively) : Well, I guess I love to dream 
too. I wish I could dream, though, without going to bed. 

LITTLE NANCY : When I grow up, I'm never going to bed at 
night! (Darkly) You see. 

LITTLE LOUISE: "Grown-ups" just love to poke their heads 
out of windows and cry, "Child'run, it's time for bed now ; 
and you'd better hurry, too, I can tell you." They "sure" 
are queer, for sometimes when I wake up, it must be 


about twelve o'clock, I can hear by big sister giggling and 
talking to some silly man. If it's good for me to go to 
bed early I should think 

RACHEL (Interrupting suddenly) : Why, where is my little 
Jenny ? Excuse me, Louise dear. 

LITTLE MARTHA: Her cold is awful bad. She coughs like 
this (giving a distressing imitation) and snuffles all the 
time. She can't talk out loud, and she can't go to sleep. 
Muzzer says she's fev'rish- I thinks that's what she says. 
Jenny says she knows she could go to sleep, if you would 
come and sit with her a little while. 

RACHEL : I certainly will. I'll go when you do, honey. 

LITTLE MARTHA (Softly stroking Rachel's arm) : You're 
the very nicest "grown-up", (loyally) except my muzzer, 
of course, I ever knew. You knows all about little chil'- 
run and you can be one, although you're all grown up. 
I think you would make a lovely muzzer. (To the rest 
of the children) Don't you? 

ALL (In excited whispers) : Yes, I do. 

RACHEL (Winces, then says gently) : Come, kiddies, you 
must go now, or your mothers will blame me for keeping 
you. (Rises, as do the rest. Little Martha puts her hand 
into Rachel's). Ma dear, I'm going down to sit a little 
while with Jenny. I'll be back before you go, though. 
Come, kiddies, say good-night to my mother. 

ALL (Gravely): Good-night! Sweet dreams! God keep 
you all the night. 

MRS. LOVING: Good-night dears! Sweet dreams, all! 

(Exeunt Rachel and the children. 

Mrs. Loving continues to sew. The bell presently rings 
three distinct times. In a few moments, Mrs. Loving 
gets up and goes out into the vestibule. A door opens 
and closes. Mrs. Loving and John Strong come in. He 
is a trifle pale but his imperturbable self. Mrs. Loving, 


somewhat nervous, takes her seat and resumes her sewing. 
She motions Strong to a chair. He returns to the vesti- 
bule, leaves his hat, returns, and sits down). 

STRONG : Well, how is everything ? 

MRS. LOVING: Oh! about the same, I guess. Tom's out. 
John, we'll never forget you and your kindness. 

STRONG: That was nothing. And Rachel? 

MRS. LOVING: She'll be back presently. She went to sit 
with a sick child for a little while. 

STRONG: And how is she? 

MRS. LOVING: She's not herself yet, but I think she is bet- 

STRONG (After a short pause) : Well, what did happen 
exactly ? 

MRS. LOVING : That's just what I don't know. 

STRONG: When you came home you couldn't get in was 
that it? 

MRS. LOVING: Yes. (Pauses). It was just a week ago 
today. I was down town all the morning. It was about 
one o'clock when I got back. I had forgotten my key. 
I rapped on the door and then called. There was no 
answer. A window was open, and I could feel the air 
under the door, and I could hear it as the draught sucked 
it through. There was no other sound. Presently I 
made such a noise the people began to come out into the 
hall. Jimmy was in one of the flats playing with a little 
girl named Mary. He told me he had left Rachel here a 
short time before. She had given him four cookies, two 
for him and two for Mary, and had told him he could play 
with her until she came to tell him his lunch was ready. 
I saw he was getting frightened, so I got the little girl 
and her mother to keep him in their flat. Then, as no 
man was at home, I sent out for help. Three men broke 
the door down. (Pauses). We found Rachel uncon- 


scious, lying on her face. For a few minutes I thought 
she was dead. (Pauses). A vase had fallen over on 
the table and the water had dripped through the cloth and 
onto the floor. There had been flowers in it. When I 
left, there were no flowers here. What she could have 
done to them, I can't say. The long stems were lying 
everywhere, and the flowers had been ground into the 
floor. I could tell that they must have been roses from 
the stems. After we had put her to bed and called the 
doctor, and she had finally regained consciousness, I very 
naturally asked her what had happened. All she would 
say was, "Ma dear, I'm too tired please." For four 
days she lay in bed scarcely moving, speaking only when 
spoken to. That first day, when Jimmy came in to see 
her, she shrank away from him. We had to take him out, 
and comfort him as best we could. We kept him away, 
almost by force, until she got up. And, then, she was 
utterly miserable when he was out of her sight. What 
happened, I don't know. She avoids Tom, and she won't 
tell me. (Pauses). Tom and I both believe her soul 
has been hurt. The trouble isn't with her body. You'll 
find her highly nervous. Sometimes she is very much 
depressed; again she is feverishly gay almost reckless. 
What do you think about it, John? 

STRONG (Who has listened quietly) : Had anybody been 
here, do you know ? 

MRS. LOVING : No, I don't. I don't like to ask Rachel ; and 
I can't ask the neighbors. 

STRONG: No, of course not. (Pauses). You say there 
were some flowers? 


STRONG : And the flowers were ground into the carpet ? 



STRONG: Did you happen to notice the box? They must 
have come in a box, don't you think? 

MRS. LOVING : Yes, there was a box in the kitchenette. It 
was from "Marcy's." I saw no card. 

STRONG (Slowly) : It is rather strange. (A long silence, 
during which the outer door opens and shuts. Rachel is 
heard singing. She stops abruptly. In a second or two 
she appears in the door. There is an air of suppressed 
excitement about her). 

RACHEL : Hello ! John. (Strong rises, nods at her, and brings 
forward for her the big arm-chair near the fire). I 
thought that was your hat in the hall. It's brand new, 
I know but it looks "Johnlike." How are you? Ma! 
Jenny went to sleep like a little lamb. I don't like her 
breathing, though. (Looks from one to the other; flip- 
pantly) Who's dead? (Nods her thanks to Strong for 
the chair and sits down). 

MRS. LOVING: Dead, Rachel? 

RACHEL: Yes. The atmosphere here is so funereal, it's 
positively "crapey." 

STRONG : I don't know why it should be I was just asking 
how you are. 

RACHEL: Heavens! Does the mere inquiry into my health 
precipitate such an atmosphere? Your two faces were 
as long, as long (Breaks off). Kind sir, let me assure 
you, I am in the very best of health. And how are you, 

STRONG: Oh! I'm always well. (Sits down). 

MRS. LOVING: Rachel, I'll have to get ready to go now. 
John, don't hurry. I'll be back shortly, probably in three- 
quarters of an hour maybe less. 

RACHEL : And maybe more, if I remember Mrs. Jordan. 
However, Ma dear, I'll do the best I can while you are 
away. I'll try to be a credit to your training. (Mrs. 


Loving smiles and goes out the rear doorway). Now, 
let's see in the books of etiquette, I believe, the properly 
reared young lady, always asks the young gentleman 
caller you're young enough, aren't you, to be classed still 
as a "young gentleman caller?" (No answer). Well, 
anyway, she always asks the young gentleman caller 
sweetly something about the weather. (Primly) This 
has been an exceedingly beautiful day, hasn't it, Mr. 
Strong? (No answer from Strong, who, with his head 
resting against the back of the chair, and his knees 
crossed is watching her in an amused, quizzical manner). 
Well, really, every properly brought up young gentleman, 
I'm sure, ought to know, that it's exceedingly rude not to 
answer a civil question. 

STRONG (Lazily) : Tell me what to answer, Rachel. 

RACHEL : Say, "Yes, very" ; and look interested and pleased 
when you say it. 

STRONG (With a half -smile) : Yes, very. 

RACHEL: Well, I certainly wouldn't characterize that as a 
particularly animated remark. Besides, when you look 
at me through half-closed lids like that and kind of 
smile what are you thinking? (No answer) John 
Strong, are you deaf or just plain stupid? 

STRONG: Plain stupid, I guess. 

RACHEL (In wheedling tones) : What were you thinking, 

STRONG (Slowly) : I was thinking (Breaks off) 

RACHEL (Irritably) : Well? 

STRONG : I've changed my mind. 

RACHEL: You're not going to tell me? 


(Mrs. Loving dressed for the street comes in) 

MRS. LOVING : Goodbye, children. Rachel, don't quarrel so 
much with John. Let me see if I have my key. (Feels 


in her bag) Yes, I have it. I'll be back shortly. Good- 
bye. (Strong and Rachel rise. He bows). 

RACHEL: Good-bye, Ma dear. Hurry back as soon as you 
can, won't you? (Exit Mrs. Loving through the vesti- 
bule. Strong leans back again in his chair , and watches 
Rachel through half-closed eyes. Rachel sits in her chair 

STRONG: Do you mind, if I smoke? 

RACHEL : You know I don't. 

STRONG : I am trying to behave like Reginald "the prop- 
erly reared young gentleman caller." (Lights a cigar; 
goes over to the fire, and throws his match away. Rachel 
goes into the kitchenette, and brings him a saucer for his 
ashes. She places it on the table near him). Thank you. 
(They both sit again, Strong very evidently enjoying his 
cigar and Rachel). Now this is what I call cosy. 

RACHEL: Cosy! Why? 

STRONG: A nice warm room shut in curtains drawn 
a cheerful fire crackling at my back a lamp, not an 
electric or gas one, but one of your plain, old-fashioned 
kerosene ones 

RACHEL (Interupting) : Ma dear would like to catch you, 
I am sure, talking about her lamp like that. "Old- 
fashioned! plain!" You have nerve. 

STRONG (Continuing as though he had not been inter- 
rupted) : A comfortable chair a good cigar and not 
very far away, a little lady, who is looking charming, so 
near, that if I reached over, I could touch her. You there 
and I here. It's living. 

RACHEL: Well! of all things! A compliment and from 
you I How did it slip out, pray? (No answer). I 
suppose that you realize that a conversation between two 
persons is absolutely impossible, if one has to do her share 
all alone. Soon my ingenuity for introducing interesting 


subjects will be exhausted; and then will follow what, 
I believe, the story books call, "an uncomfortable silence/' 

STRONG (Slowly) : Silence between friends isn't such a 
bad thing. 

RACHEL: Thanks awfully. (Leans back; cups her cheek 
in her hand, and makes no pretense at further conver- 
sation. The old look of introspection returns to her eyes. 
She does not move). 

STRONG (Quietly): Rachel! (Rachel starts perceptibly) 
You must remember I'm here. I don't like looking into 
your soul when you forget you're not alone. 

RACHEL: I hadn't forgotten. 

STRONG: Wouldn't it be easier for you, little girl, if you 
could tell some one? 

RACHEL: No. (A silence) 

STRONG: Rachel, you're fond of flowers, aren't you? 


STRONG: Rosebuds red rosebuds particularly? 

RACHEL (Nervously) : Yes. 

STRONG: Did you dislike the giver? 

RACHEL (More nervously; bracing herself) : No, of course 

STRONG: Rachel, why why did you kill the roses 

RACHEL (Twisting her hands) : Oh, John! I'm so sorry, 
Ma dear told you that. She didn't know, you sent them. 

STRONG: So I gathered. (Pauses and then leans forward; 
quietly). Rachel, little girl, why did you kill them? 

RACHEL (Breathing quickly) : Don't you believe it a a 
kindness sometimes to kill ? 

STRONG (After a pause) : You considered it a kind- 
ness to kill them? 

RACHEL: Yes. (Another pause) 

STRONG: Do you mean just the roses? 


RACHEL (Breathing more quickly): John! Oh! must I 

STRONG : Yes, little Rachel. 

RACHEL (In a whisper) : No. (There is a long pause. 
Rachel leans back limply, and closes her eyes. Presently 
Strong rises , and moves his chair very close to hers. She 
does not stir. He puts his cigar on the saucer). 

STRONG (Leaning forward; very gently) : Little girl, little 
girl, can't you tell me why? 

RACHEL (Wearily) : I can't. It hurts too much to talk 
about it yet, please. 

STRONG (Takes her hand; looks at it a few minutes and 
then at her quietly). You don't care, then? (She 
winces) Rachel! Look at me, little girl! (As if 
against her will, she looks at him. Her eyes are fearful, 
hunted. She tries to look away, to draw away her hand; 
but he holds her gaze and her hand steadily). Do you? 

RACHEL (Almost sobbing): John! John! don't ask me. 
You are drawing my very soul out of my body with your 
eyes. You must not talk this way. You mustn't look 
John, don't! (Tries to shield her eyes). 

STRONG (Quietly takes both of her hands, and kisses the 
backs and the palms slowly. A look of horror creeps 
into her face. He deliberately raises his eyes and looks 
at her mouth. She recoils as though she expected him 
to strike her. He resumes slowly) If you do care, 
and I know now that you do nothing else, nothing 
should count. 

RACHEL (Wrenching herself from his grasp and rising. She 
covers her ears; she breathes rapidly) : No! No! No! 
You must stop. (Laughs nervously; continues feverish- 
ly) I'm not behaving very well as a hostess, am I? Let's 
see. What shall I do? I'll play you something, John. 
How will that do? Or I'll sing to you. You used to 


like to hear me sing; you said my voice, I remember, was 
sympathetic, didn't you? (Moves quickly to the piano). 
I'll sing you a pretty little song. I think it's beautiful. 
You've never heard it, I know. I've never sung it to you 
before. It's Nevin's "At Twilight." (Pauses, looks 
down, before she begins, then turns toward him and says 
quietly and sweetly) Sometimes in the coming years I 
want you to remember I sang you this little song. 
Will you ? I think it will make it easier for me when I 
when I (Breaks off and begins the first chords. 
Strong goes slowly to the piano. He leans there watch- 
ing intently. Rachel sings) : 

"The roses of yester-year 
Were all of the white and red; 

It fills my heart with silent fear 
To find all their beauty fled. 

The roses of white are sere, 

All faded the roses red, 
And one who loves me is not here 
And one that I love is dead." 

(A long pause. Then Strong goes to her and lifts her 
from the piano-stool. He puts one arm around her very 
tenderly and pushes her head back so he can look into her 
eyes. She shuts them t but is passive). 
STRONG (Gently) : Little girl, little girl, don't you know that 
suggestions suggestions like those you are sending 
yourself constantly are wicked things ? You, who are so 
gentle, so loving, so warm (Breaks off and crushes her 
to him. He kisses her many times. She does not resist, but 
in the midst of his caresses she breaks suddenly into con- 
vulsive laughter. He tries to hush the terrible sound with 


his mouth; then brokenly) Little girl don't laugh like 

RACHEL (Interrupted throughout by her laughter) : I have 
to. God is laughing. We're his puppets. He pulls the 
wires, and we're so funny to Him. I'm laughing too 
because I can hear my little children weeping. They 
come to me generally while I'm asleep, but I can hear 
them now. They've begged me do you understand? 
begged me not to bring them here; and I've promised 
them not to. I've promised. I can't stand the sound 
of their crying. I have to laugh Oh! John! laugh! 
laugh too! I can't drown their weeping. 
(Strong picks her up bodily and carries her to the arm- 
chair) . 

STRONG (Harshly) : Now, stop that! 

RACHEL (In sheer surprise) : W-h-a-t? 

STRONG (Still harshly) : Stop that! You've lost your self- 
control. Find yourself again ! 

(He leaves her and goes over to the fireplace, and stands 
looking down into it for some little time. Rachel, little 
by little , becomes calmer. Strong returns and sits beside 
her again. She doesn't move. He smoothes her hair back 
gently, and kisses her forehead and then, slowly, her 
mouth. She does not resist; simply sits there, with shut 
eyes, inert, limp). 

STRONG: Rachel! (Pauses). There is a little flat on 43rd 
Street. It faces south and overlooks a little park. Do 
you remember it? it's on the top floor? Once I remem- 
ber your saying you liked it. That was over a year ago. 
That same day I rented it. I've never lived there. No 
one knows about it not even my mother. It's complete- 
ly furnished now and waiting do you know for whom ? 
Every single thing in it, I've bought myself even to the 
pins on the little bird's-eye maple dresser. It has been 


the happiest year I have ever known. I furnished it 
one room at a time. It's the prettiest, the most homelike 
little flat I've ever seen. (Very low) Everything there- 
breathes love. Do you know for whom it is waiting ? On 
the sitting-room floor is a beautiful, Turkish rug red, and 
blue and gold. It's soft and rich and do you know for 
whose little feet it is waiting? There are delicate curtains 
at the windows and a bookcase full of friendly, eager, 
little books. Do you know for whom they are waiting? 
There are comfortable leather chairs, just the right size, 
and a beautiful piano that I leave open sometimes, and 
lovely pictures of Madonnas. Do you know for whom 
they are waiting? There is an open fireplace with logs 
of wood, all carefully piled on gleaming andirons and 
waiting. There is a bellows and a pair of shining tongs- 
waiting. And in the kitchenette painted blue and white, 
and smelling sweet with paint is everything: bright pots 
and pans and kettles, and blue and white enamel-ware, 
and all kinds of knives and forks and spoons and on the 
door a roller-towel. Little girl, do you know for whom 
they are all waiting? And somewhere there's a big, 
strong man with broad shoulders. And he's willing and 
anxious to do anything everything, and he's waiting very 
patiently. Little girl, is it to be yes or no? 

RACHEL (During Strong's speech life has come flooding 
back to her. Her eyes are shining; her face, eager. For 
a moment she is beautifully happy). Oh ! you're too good 
to me and mine, John. I didn't dream any one could 
be so good. (Leans forward and puts his big hand 
against her cheek and kisses it shyly). 

STRONG (Quietly) : Is it yes or no, little girl? 

RACHEL (Feverishly, gripping his hands) : Oh, yes ! yes ! 
yes! and take me quickly, John. Take me before I can 
think any more. You mustn't let me think, John. And 


you'll be good to me, won't you? Every second of every 
minute, of every hour, of every day, you'll have me in 
your thoughts, won't you? And you'll be with me every 
minute that you can? And, John, John! you'll keep 
away the weeping of my little children. You won't let 
me hear it, will you? You'll make me forget everything 
everything won't you? Life is so short, John. (Shivers 
and then fearfully and slowly) And eternity so long. 
(Feverishly again) And, John, after I am dead promise 
me, promise me you'll love me more. (Shivers again). 
I'll need love then. Oh! I'll need it. (Suddenly there 
comes to their ears the sound of a child's weeping. It is 
monotonous, hopeless, terribly afraid. . Rachel recoils) . 
Oh ! John ! Listen ! It's my boy, again. I John I'll 
be back in a little while. (Goes swiftly to the door in the 
rear, pauses and looks back. The weeping continues. 
Her eyes are tragic. Slowly she kisses her hand to him 
and disappears. John stands where she has left him 
looking down. The weeping stops. Presently Rachel 
appears in the doorway. She is hag gar d t and grey. She 
does not enter the room. She speaks as one dead might 
speak tonelessly, slozvly). 

RACHEL: Do you wish to know why Jimmy is crying? 

STRONG : Yes. 

RACHEL: I am twenty-two and I'm old; you're thirty-two 
and you're old; Tom's twenty-three and he is old. 
Ma dear's sixty and she said once she is much older than 
that. She is. We are all blighted ; we are all accursed 
all of us , everywhere, we whose skins are dark our 
lives blasted by the white man's prejudice. (Pauses) 
And my little Jimmy seven years old, that's all is 
blighted too. In a year or two, at best, he will be made 
old by suffering. (Pauses) . One week ago, today, some 
white boys, older and larger than my little Jimmy, as he 


was leaving the school called him "Nigger" ! They 
chased him through the streets calling him, "Nigger! 
Nigger ! Nigger !" One boy threw stones at him. There 
is still a bruise on his little back where one struck him. 
That will get well; but they bruised his soul and that 
will never get well. He asked me what "Nigger" meant. 
I made light of the whole thing, laughed it off. He went 
to his little playmates, and very naturally asked them. 
The oldest of them is nine! and they knew, poor 
little things and they told him. (Pauses). For the 
last couple of nights he has been dreaming about 
these boys. And he always awakes in the dark 
afraid afraid of the now and the future I have seen 
that look of deadly fear in the eyes of other little 
children. I know what it is myself. I was twelve 
when some big boys chased me and called me names. I 
never left the house afterwards without being afraid. 
I was afraid, in the streets in the school in the church, 
everywhere, always, afraid of being hurt. And I was 
not afraid in vain. (The weeping begins again). He's 
only a baby and he's blighted. (To Jimmy) Honey, 
I'm right here. I'm coming in just a minute. Don't cry. 
(To Strong) If it nearly kills me to hear my Jimmy's 
crying, do you think I could stand it, when my own child, 
flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood learned the same 
reason for weeping? Do you? (Pauses). Ever since 
I fell here a week ago I am afraid to go to sleep, 
for every time I do my children come and beg me 
weeping not to bring them here to suffer. Tonight, 
they came when I was awake. (Pauses). I have 
promised them again, now by Jimmy's bed. (In a 
whisper) I have damned my soul to all eternity if I do. 
(To Jimmy) Honey, don't! I'm coming. (To Strong) 
And John, dear John you see it can never be all the 


beautiful, beautiful things you have told me about. 
(Wistfully) No they can never be now. (Strong 
comes toward her) No, John dear, you must not 
touch me any more. (Pauses). Dear, this is 

STRONG (Quietly) : It's not fair to you, Rachel, to take 
you at your word tonight. You're sick ; you've brood- 
ed so long, so continuously, you've lost your perspec- 
tive. Don't answer, yet. Think it over for another week 
and I'll come back. 

RACHEL (Wearily) : No, I can't think any more. 

STRONG: You realize fully you're sending me for al- 


STRONG : And you care ? 


STRONG: It's settled, then for all time "Good-bye!" 

RACHEL (After a pause) : Yes. 

STRONG (Stands looking at her steadily a long time, and then 
moves to the door and turns, facing her; with infinite ten- 
derness) : Good-bye, dear, little Rachel God bless you. 

RACHEL: Good-bye, John! (Strong goes out. A door 
opens and shuts. There is finality in the sound. The 
weeping continues. Suddenly; with a great cry) John! 
John! (Runs out into the vestibule. She presently re- 
turns. She is calm again. Slowly) No ! No ! John. Not 
for us. (A pause; with infinite yearning) Oh! John, 
if it only if it only (Breaks off, controls herself. 
Slowly again; thoughtfully) No No sunshine no laugh- 
ter always, always darkness. That is it. Even our 
little flat (In a whisper) John's and mine the little flat 
that calls, calls us through darkness. It shall wait 
and wait in vain in darkness. Oh, John! (Pauses). 
And my little children! my little children! (The weep- 


ing ceases; pauses). I shall never see you now. 
Your little, brown, beautiful bodies I shall never see. 
Your dimples everywhere your laughter your tears 
the beautiful, lovely feel of you here. (Puts her hands 
against her heart). Never never to be. (A pause, 
fiercely) But you are somewhere and wherever you are 
you are mine! You are mine! All of you! Every bit 
of you ! Even God can't take you away. (A pause ; very 
sweetly; pathetically) Little children! My little chil- 
dren! No more need you come to me weeping weep- 
ing. You may be happy now you are safe. Little weep- 
ing, voices, hush ! hush ! ( The weeping begins again. To 
Jimmy, her whole soul in her voice) Jimmy! My little 
Jimmy! Honey! I'm coming. Ma Rachel loves you so. 
(Sobs and goes blindly, unsteadily to the rear doorway; 
she leans her head there one second against the door; and 
then stumbles through and disappears. The light in the 
lamp flickers and goes out... It is black. The terrible, 
heart-breaking weeping continues).